× Close

Central African Republic

“It was when I lowered my arms that they started to shoot. The first bullet hit a 13-year-old girl. The second hit my ankle”

On the 8th of September 2017, armed men opened fire on Batangafo Hospital, killing a 15-year-old and a child. Two other people were injured, among them Christelle.

    My name is Christelle, and I’m 24. I was born in Batangafo, in Central African Republic, but I left the town a little before the events of 2013-2014. I didn’t return until the 26th May 2017.

    When the fighting started on the 29th July in the displacement site on the hill, I came with my family to the hospital for refuge. We built a shelter. That’s where I was on Friday 8th September, getting water from the well towards the doorway at the back of the hospital. I had already taken one 25 litre can and had come back to get the second when the armed men arrived. There were seven of them, and four of them had guns.

    They shouted, “you there, you!” so I raised my arms shouting “Jesus!” It was when I lowered them that they started to shoot. The first bullet hit a 13-year-old girl. I fell to the ground and they kept shooting. A bullet hit my ankle. Another bullet hit a child of two or three who was in a shelter next to the hospital wall, and who died instantly. After a while, the armed men left and the 13-year-old girl said to me, “Big sister, they’ve gone, we have to go inside the hospital!” I tried to stand up but my leg wouldn’t hold me, so I jumped on the other leg until we reached the door.

    When I got there, the staff brought me to the emergency room where they dressed the wound. But on Saturday I was still bleeding. The surgeons spoke to me and told me that the bone had been hit, and that I would have to have an operation and be hospitalized. I was confined to the bed for a few days. With all the displaced people in the hospital it wasn’t easy to rest, there was a lot of noise and it made me dizzy.

    Christelle and her family left the hospital shortly after Christmas to go back to their neighbourhood. She now feels better but still feels pain in her heel where she was hit by the bullet, especially when she walks. The wound has still not completely healed.

    Main Photo: Christelle is 24 years old. On 8 September 2017, while she was taking water from a fountain near the hospital, a group of armed men shot her and a 13-year-old that was standing nearby. © Natacha Buhler/MSF