"I saw the soldiers arrive. People were running, the women were crying. There was panic"

Malian refugee Madi Walet Oumar (13).


Malian refugee Madi Walet Oumar (13) has never been to school and used to help her mother with household tasks. The refugees, mostly Tuaregs, now number more than 60,000 in Burkina Faso alone, and are continuing to arrive in the camps daily, following the political chaos created when junior Malian military officers staged a coup on March 22nd 2012.

“I saw the soldiers arrive. People were running, the women were crying. There was panic. It was the army, the blacks. I saw guns in their hands, the soldiers in the cars, people running. They had guns in their hands; they were shooting into the air. They had kalashnikovs. It was the first time I had seen anything like this. I keep asking myself, did I really see this? I thought I would be killed. I ran like everyone else. I ran with my grandfather. I had no idea where my mother and my father were.

I left believing my parents were leaving in the same direction. I have contact with someone who says my parents are okay, but I don’t know where they are. They are not in Mali. I am worried about them, wondering if they are okay. I want to see them. I like being with my father. I would prefer it if they could come here. What I want (more than anything) is to be reunited with my parents, my family, in tranquility.”