Sudan

Frontline Diary

May 2006: As situation worsens, funds needed to protect Darfur’s children
WEST DARFUR, Sudan, May 2006 – At this time of year in Darfur, the temperature rises sharply and in the late afternoon a haboob (dust storm) will tear through the desert, whipping up the sand and obliterating the sun, turning everything a hazy yellow and reducing visibility to just a few metres.

17 April 2006: After two years of aid in Darfur, are we going back to the beginning?
DARFUR, Sudan, 17 April 2006 – In a few days, I will have completed two years of work in Darfur, travelling between camps for internally displaced people in rebel-controlled parts of the region and in urban areas. Every day, I used to sense a slight improvement in the general situation compared to how it felt in August 2004 when I first came to the field, but now I worry we are heading back to where we were two years ago.

16 November 2005: Serving the underserved in Darfur
JEBEL MARA, Darfur, Sudan, 16 November 2005 - One of the hardest parts of working in Darfur is getting around. Roads across the sandy terrain are not paved. Control of the countryside ping-pongs between government forces and rebel groups. In the rainy season, which lasts half the year, abundant stretches of quicksand have to be avoided.

15 September 2005: Children coping with the past
DARFUR, Sudan, 10 October 2005 – I last submitted a diary entry that focused on the children in Fata Borno camp in North Darfur. Since then, I have been in and out of a dozen camps. And just this week – I realized I have been in Darfur for over one year.

15 November 2004 - Darfur’s children say: “Please don’t forget us”
EL FASHIR, Darfur region, 15 November 2004 – There is saying in Darfur: “The solution to the crisis requires 3 things: security, security, and more security.”

15 October 2004: Listening to girls and women in Darfur’s camps
The women were all gathered together in the burning hot sun under the shade of a tent. They were working on an income generating project and were all busy with brightly covered grass they were weaving into baskets.

25-26 September 2004: Fear and uncertainty in Darfur’s camps
On Saturday I receive reports about child abduction, and about bribes being used to speed up the voluntary repatriation of displaced people to their villages of origin. A mission including representatives from other UN agencies goes to Kalma camp to investigate the incident.

6 September 2004: 55,000 people in one Darfur camp
I had not visited this camp in Kalma since the scorching heat of the summer sun was replaced by cooler temperatures and devastating rainstorms. In April there were 6,000 people here, but by the end of August the population of the camp was 55,000. This constant increase has required an ever-expanding effort to provide a minimum of basic services.

21 August 2004: Belgian Minister of Defence and journalists arrive in Darfur
It is a hectic morning here in El Fasher, North Darfur. I arrived only yesterday and am now working on preparing for the visit of Belgian Minister of Defence Andre Flahaut, along with over 20 Belgian journalists.

12-13 August 2004: Assessing the situation in West Darfur
I leave Nyala for Zalingei in West Darfur, which is an area where UNICEF has not yet been able to support many activities aside from latrines, basic drugs and medical equipment. One of the reasons is the limited capacity of implementing partners, such as national and international NGOs and the Government. Other things hampering our activities include the rain and the prevailing insecurity. We plan to assess the situation in the town and in the two IDP (internally displaced person) camps.

2-10 August: The brutality of Darfur’s crisis drawn by children on a bridge
Today is another day with the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors and the rest of the lot – nine in total. I felt sorry for them that we could not go to Kalma camp due to the prevailing insecurity, but today we make it up to them by going to Kass. I see the two-hour journey through the eyes of the newcomers: villages that have been deserted or even destroyed, herds of camels, people riding camels and donkeys, checkpoints, the beauty of the country… and the bridge with the drawings.

1 August 2004: Travelling with UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors in Darfur
In a bus we drive to the plane that is going to take us to Nyala, South Darfur. When the bus stops, I can see the technicians working on the engine. The pilot is friendly and promises to call my mobile when everything is fixed. Feeling more anxious than before, we drive back to the waiting lounge

30 July 2004: Keeping cholera out of Darfur and eastern Chad
Have you ever heard of a massive cholera immunization campaign? They do exist; one is being done right now in Darfur. Immunization campaigns are labour-intensive and costly. There must be a real threat if one is to be done.

28 July 2004: A boy of sixteen whose arm is as thin as a five-year old’s
Have you ever heard of a massive cholera immunization campaign? They do exist; one is being done right now in Darfur. Immunization campaigns are labour-intensive and costly. There must be a real threat if one is to be done.

21 July 2004: Keeping Darfur’s children in school
Today I’m writing about the situation of primary education in the camps. The majority of schools that have been constructed are made out of thatch woven from grasses collected by women and girls from the surrounding countryside. The structure, which costs around US $300 and is called a “rekuba,” is very easy to make and maintain, there are some problems.

16 July 2004: Water-borne disease threatens Darfur’s children
Today I’m writing about the situation of primary education in the camps. The majority of schools that have been constructed are made out of thatch woven from grasses collected by women and girls from the surrounding countryside. The structure, which costs around US $300 and is called a “rekuba,” is very easy to make and maintain, there are some problems.

14 July 2004: Searching for water in the rainy season
Today I’m writing about the situation of primary education in the camps. The majority of schools that have been constructed are made out of thatch woven from grasses collected by women and girls from the surrounding countryside. The structure, which costs around US $300 and is called a “rekuba,” is very easy to make and maintain, there are some problems.

12 July 2004: The struggle for shelter in Darfur
I travel with some UNICEF colleagues in a small convoy with the required minimum of two vehicles to Zalengi in West Darfur to assess the situation in the camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) near the town.

9 July 2004: A child starts school in a camp for displaced people
This morning I went back to Kalma camp for displaced people. There is still a lot to be done, but a start has been made. We all hope everyone can return home soon. In the meantime children go to school, and babies are delivered by trained traditional birth attendants or by a nurse. Clean drinking water is now available. Children learn how to use a latrine and, most importantly, they can continue their education. They can play without the fear of being attacked or abducted. Here in Kalma, a child can be a child again.

2 July 2004: Stories of horror – in a child’s picture
Asma’s drawings changed dramatically when she was given a red pencil. Flowers blossomed, the sun emerged… and bodies spilled blood. Using drawings to recall – and recover from – the deadly attack on her village in Darfur, 11-year-old Asma sketches an armed man on a camel, shooting into a crowd.

29 June 2004: A child’s story of horrific attack
When she fled, Rihab remembers two things most clearly: the gunfire and the sorghum. “When we heard the guns and the screaming we ran as quickly as we could to the fields,” 12-year-old Rihab tells me from the sand floor of her school hut in Kalma camp.

16 June 2004: Providing for 60,000 displaced people in Mornei
When she fled, Rihab remembers two things most clearly: the gunfire and the sorghum. “When we heard the guns and the screaming we ran as quickly as we could to the fields,” 12-year-old Rihab tells me from the sand floor of her school hut in Kalma camp.

10 June 2004: Major measles immunization campaign in Darfur
There is little to cheer about in Darfur right now. Fighting has displaced more than one million people, leaving them in horrific conditions, with malnutrition rapidly rising and death hovering over bulging camps for displaced people.

8 June 2004: Visiting the Kassab camp for displaced people
Sand, sand, and sand again… in this area north of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, the environment is pretty hostile heading towards Kutum. Sandy desert, rocky desert and bushy desert areas, living conditions here are already quite hard while temperatures can soar very high, often above 50 degrees Celsius.

3 June 2004: A mother struggles to cope
In a model camp like Abu Shouk - which has been well planned and organized to host more than 30,000 displaced people relocated from El Meshtel camp - a family with 8 children must fit into a small tent 3 x 3 metres, eating and sleeping within.

1 June 2004: Despite being forced to flee, Adam dreams of a better future
Adam Babiker is a bright-eyed thirteen-year-old boy, one of the few children who had already begun to learn to read and write in his home village of Korlei, south Sudan. He is a member of the Fur tribe, who have fled their homes en masse in what appears to be a forced relocation of several ethnic groups by nomadic, armed tribes.

24 May 2004: Countdown to planting time
A blisteringly hot Sunday in a small town in South Darfur, Sudan. I want to let you know that the final countdown has begun.  It’s less than three weeks to the end of planting time in this region, and for the 700,000 displaced people in this dry part of Sudan their fields will neither be ploughed nor planted this year.

19 May 2004: Terrible conditions for displaced people in El Fasher
The last stop in our tour of the three Darfur states is El Fasher in North Darfur.  We visited a couple of camps here that illustrate the moral dilemmas that aid workers are faced with.

18 May 2004: Providing relief in Darfur
We visited Mornei Camp in West Darfur today, where UNICEF is supporting water and education projects.  On the way to the camp, we passed two villages that had been destroyed by the Janjaweed, armed militiamen on horses or camels who have been wreaking havoc throughout Darfur.

15 May 2004: Working seven days a week to deliver supplies
I’ve come out to Darfur to visit our three field offices in Nyala, Geneina, and El Fasher.  National and international staffers have been doing an amazing job over the last few months, working seven days a week and always more than eight hours a day to organize deliveries of essential drugs and water supplies, create simple new school buildings, and help train teachers on how to deal with traumatized children.


 

 

 

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