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Frontline Diary

1 June 2004: Despite being forced to flee, Adam dreams of a better future

© UNICEF Sudan/2004/Claycomb
Paula Claycomb, Communication Officer with UNICEF Sudan
Paula Claycomb, UNICEF’s Communication Officer in Sudan, is travelling through Sudan’s Darfur region. Here’s her diary entry giving her personal view on what is happening there.

DARFUR, 1 June 2004—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.

“I was at school when they came in and started firing rifles”, Adam told us. “It was on a Tuesday, two months ago. We were brought here, with no food or water”. His mother sat nearby, silently listening to a story that she must have gone through a thousand times since March, when she and her husband packed up Adam and a few belongings and fled to the town of Kass, about 70 kilometres west of Nyala.

© UNICEF Sudan/2004/Claycomb
Adam Babiker and his family were forced to relocate. They are now living in the little shelters with only one water source two kilometres away.
With other members of their tribe, many from far-flung villages around Kass, Adam and his family began to set up a new life below the town’s five water towers. In an ironic twist of fate, the water towers are not functional, so the 3,000 people living in the precarious little shelters in the compound can only rely on a water source two kilometres away. Adam’s father left a month ago in the direction of Zalingi to look for work. They have received no word from him since.

Our conversation was interrupted by a man with his seven-year-old son. The little boy’s feet were cracked and bleeding. He was in pain. His father was worried that it was a disease. We advised him to gently wash the child’s feet and then apply some cooking oil to them. What else can you tell a parent with no money and no access to a health clinic?

Among the 3,000 people living under the water towers, many were from Korlei, a town which until a few days ago was literally under seige. Many people had managed to leave earlier, but those who remained were not allowed to leave or receive food and water.

Meanwhile, the children remain amazingly resilient. Despite his present circumstance, Adam dreams about the future. “I love learning!” he exclaimed, “I want to help little children love to learn too”.



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