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Central African Republic

"On that day, I thought I was going to die”

Sylvain is an MSF driver for the Mission Emergency Response Team in the Central African Republic. In June 2017, he was in the Alindao region in order to respond to the medical and humanitarian needs of the local population, which has been heavily affected by conflict in the area.

    On the 25th of June, I was driving the second vehicle in a convoy on the way to Datoko, a village a few kilometres from Alindao. We were going there to vaccinate the children and donate some medication to the health centre. In periods of conflict and population displacement, vaccinations can save lives and prevent outbreaks.

    We were 4 kilometres from our destination when we heard explosions and saw armed men encircle our vehicles. They were shooting in the air and threatening us. They told us to go back because their enemies were following us. We didn’t say anything. Only the team manager spoke with them. One of them was particularly threatening, pointing his knife at me. That’s the first time I’ve found myself in that kind of situation. I am from Bangui, but my family and I were relatively untouched by the crisis in 2013/2014.

    Then their chef, a woman, told them to let us pass. We arrived at the church in Datoko and donated the medication to the health centre, but we didn’t stay for the vaccinations. It was too dangerous. You never know how this type of situation can develop. On that day, I thought I was going to die.

    Main Photo: Sylvain, MSF driver for the emergency team in Batangafo. © Natacha Buhler/MSF