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French family kidnapped in Cameroon describes ordeal

Four children between the ages of 5 and 12 were among seven members of a French family kidnapped by Islamist militants in Cameroon last February and held hostage for two months, living exposed to the elements in the shade of a tree.

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Four children between the ages of 5 and 12 were among seven members of a French family kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists in Cameroon Feb. 19 and held hostage for more than two months in neighbouring Nigeria. Along with their parents and their uncle, they lived exposed to the relentless sun protected only by a canvas or the shadow of a tree.

"The kids did very well, they didn't cry, they didn't have nightmares,” said their mother, Albane Moulin-Fournier. “They were just kids playing with whatever they could find -- sticks, an empty can. We had a few books that we managed to grab before they took us. We had the fables of [Jean de] la Fontaine.”

Some moments were more difficult than others. The adults had to negotiate with their kidnappers to obtain water and other goods. But even far away from home, the Moulin-Fournier parents created a routine for their children.

"We had activities, we folded our blankets in the morning and we prepared breakfast," said their uncle, Cyril Moulin-Fournier. "It gave us a certain rhythm and that was important."

The children are now in therapy and only blurred images of them have been broadcast by the media, in accordance with French law.

Staying united may help the family overcome the trauma. But each family member will receive individual therapy to work through any personal distress.

Tanguy Moulin-Fournier, the children’s father and an employee of French energy firm GDF Suez, had been based in Yaoundé with his wife and their four sons since 2011. His brother Cyril was visiting them from his home in Barcelona when the family was seized.

When asked about leaving Cameroon upon his release last week, Moulin-Fournier told the press: “We’ll be back.”

The Moulin-Fournier family arrived back in France from the Cameroonian capital Yaoundé Saturday on a French government jet, accompanied by Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

 

French family returns home after two-month long hostage ordeal

 

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