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"I want to go home!" says displaced Colombian girl

06-03-2003

"My name is Mileydi. I'm 10 years old. I used to live in Caldas with mama and my brother and sister. Papa left years ago, when I was little.

Mama took in laundry and baked bread to sell in the street. My big sister helped her after school. One night, two men came to our house and scolded mama. They said she was a collaborator because she was washing clothes for men in uniforms. They told my sister not to talk, otherwise she'd be in trouble.

After that, mama decided we should go and stay with friends in Bogotá. At first I cried all the time. When we got to the city, mama's friends lent us a room. We also got help from the Red Cross, food and some other things we needed.

The room we're living in is very small. Each day we have to put everything away, even the mattresses. And we can't go out into the street, they say it's dangerous. I don't like Bogotá. I don't have any friends here and I'm bored. I like being in the countryside and the sunshine. Bogotá is very ugly, I want to go home! "

Like 1,148 other people who fled to the capital in January 2003 because of the armed conflict, Mileydi and her family are beneficiaries of the ICRC's emergency aid programme in Colombia. In 2002, the programme reached some180,000 people throughout the country – 60 per cent more than in 2001.