SUDAN WATCH: Sea of Shelters in N. Darfur, Sudan - Four people killed in Chad camp

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Sea of Shelters in N. Darfur, Sudan - Four people killed in Chad camp

Recently, a blog called RELIEF FOR DARFUR? linked to Sudan Watch. Found it through Technorati. A new blog with no posts, except for a photo, see here below, that caught my eye. The photo, posted May 4, 2005 and titled "Food Distribution Day" featured a USAID tin.

Sudan Watch and a few other links were in the blog's sidebar. Beneath the blog's title RELIEF TO DARFUR? was a banner saying:
"Darfur, an area in western Sudan, captured the attention of many people across the world, but how does our attention translate to compassion and the cessation of suffering in this distant place? It will not come only in the form of shelters, food assistance, and health care, but will need to come in the form of security, safety and respect for survival. Respect for survival of all parties involved and their need to find their own place as Darfurians and people who must live together."

Children at distribution
Photo posted by kukuziwa May 4, 2005 - "Food Distribution Day"

RELIEF FOR DARFUR? is a free BlogSpot with none of the usual stuff we bloggers like to put in our sidebars. The above photo was posted under the name of Kukuziwa. I wondered if Kukuziwa had connections with Sudan, so I left a comment to say hello.

A few days ago, I was pleased to see a reply from someone called Sarah who said she would be in North Darfur for the next few months. Of course, anybody can start up a blog and say anything. Somehow, I believed her. I hope it is true. I want it to be true.

Maybe the photo depicting USAID is a clue that Sarah (if that is her real name) is American. Maybe Sarah is an aid worker, or on assignment for a project, or a tourist or what ... we don't know, she doesn't say.

Today, Sarah published some new posts ... about her walk through the IDP camp of Abu Shouk near El Fasher, North Darfur ... the heartbreaking sight of a sea of shelters ... and all about a riot the other day at a camp.

Here below is a copy of Kukuziwa's three posts dated May 14 and copied here in full incase the links become broken:

Abu Shouk IDP Camp
Post by kukuziwa May 11, 2005:

It stood in the middle of a desert. Stretching as far as my eyes could see was a jumble of colorful makeshift tents, shelters and shacks. Already the colors of these shelters was faded by the sun and covered in a cloak of desert sand, making muted their once vibrant shades and designs. There is nothing "brilliant" to this assemblage now, although the sight is overpowering. All available space seems to be filled. There are donkeys, and goats, chickens and children of all ages. It is a rural city springing up from these dry desert sands.

Sea of Shelters
Post by kukuziwa May 11, 2005:

The IDP Camp of Abu Shouk is located in the middle of the desert. Although it is only a few kms from the center of El Fasher town it looks as though it were set in the middle of the Sahel. There are no trees and as far as the eye can see there are various shades, colors, and configurations of make shift shelters, some in the form of pre-fab plastic covered tunnel shelters, but most made of what wood and poles they can find, covered with small pieces of cloth, blankets and in some cases even clothes. It seems to be an endless sea of people trying to find shelter in sandstorms, blazing sun, and an environment that provides little to no protection. Abu Shouk has been in existence since April of 2004 and is "home" to some 71,000 people. It is a large city confined to an area that if void of these structures would seem like a scene from a movie on Saudi Arabia. The dunes are a brilliant orange against the noon day sun, and the distant mountains of Fasher rise slowly as though a mirage against this backdrop.

As I made my way through this vast land of displacement, you could see small shoots and roots beginning to emerge from what initially had seemed like chaos. There were market stalls, and people selling small plastic household goods, and packages of matches. There were "shelter side" stands made up of a few children or women selling groundnuts. There was commerce of a sort, the kind that buys some extra food for a family and allows for salt and sugar to be used in preparing meals.

Relief Slum

[Note, re above photo, posted by Kukuziwa May 11 at Relief to Darfur? - I left this comment in response:

Mafi Mushkala Sarah, Good to see your new posts and amazing photos. I shall feature this in a post at Sudan Watch and link it to some of your posts here. The photos we see in the press show a sea of tents, not this terrible large scene of makeshift shelters that wouldn't last two minutes in the wind. It's heartbreaking to see these people do not at least have the pre-fab shelters or tents we see in press photos. I wish we knew the best way to help asap. Thinking of you especially when I see news on Abu Shouk. Looking forward to your next posts. Kind regards.]

There was riot other day at camp here
Post by kukuziwa May 11, 2005:

There was a riot the other day at a camp here just outside of town. 2,000 plus people mobilized to protest the rape of two young girls. It was believed that they had been raped by the police and the IDPs took to the desert roads surrounding the camps. The Sheiks and the Umdas (local leaders) could not contain the pain, anger and frustration of this crowd. It emerged as one force, spilling out from the seams of the camp out into the main road that leads to the entrance. The GOS mobilized and sent in waves and trucks of police, tear gas was fired into the crowd and shots fired. The unrest turned to chaos, and then to more unrest. It lasted for most of the day, waves of pain emerging in shifts as young men, women and even children mobilized, anxious to express their pain and anger even in the face of injury.

There seems to be no safety in these humanitarian havens. The police have been hired by the GOS and many of them are recognized as being party to the conflict, from areas where villages were burned and looted, or from being members of an Arab tribe accused of the attacks. There is little trust and pain lurks close to the surface. It is exhausting to be vulnerable in all places from village to road and from road to makeshift shelter. But even in the midst of fatigue frustration fuels dissent and resistance.
- - -

Distillations of Darfur

Excerpt from Distillations of Darfur by kukuziwa May 4, 2005.

"There is still fear, even here in this populated town. It is easy for the IDPs to spot those that have "harmed" from those that are "hurt". This identification, recognition and reemergence of fear and distrust are everywhere."
- - -

Four killed in Chad camp

Reuters report excerpt May 11, 2005:

Four people were killed in a camp for Darfur refugees in eastern Chad on Wednesday, the same day the U.N.'s refugee agency said it pulled staff from four other camps along the border with Sudan over security concerns.

Two refugees and two Chadian police officers were killed when a group of refugees started trying to sell the plastic sheeting used to make their tents, a UN official in N'Djamena said.

"There was a clash between refugees and police officers at (the town of) Goz Beida, in the Goz Amer camp. Two refugees were killed along with two police officers," the official said.

In the past 18 months, the UNHCR has transferred more than 200,000 refugees from the border to camps further inside Chad.



Blogger Black River Eagle said...

Looks like this author of "Relief for Darfur?" is the real deal to me, Ingrid. The fact that she is able to post photos and text to her blog on a regular basis from those camps near the borders of Sudan and Chad is a feat in itself.

Keep us posted on the progress of this brave blogger, and protect her because she is surrounded by people who would think nothing of killing her for speaking out, Live.

Thursday, May 12, 2005  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Dear Bill, Good to hear from you. Thank you. Glad you think the author is genuine. The meticulous approach to the text, photos and blog itself, leads me to believe it is the real thing: the first blog from Darfur.

The photo of the makeshift shelters speaks volumes about all sorts of issues. The blog is so sensitvely written, you get the feeling the author knows what he/she is doing and is aware of what correspondents and aid workers are up against when it comes to broadcasting news out of Sudan.

It's interesting to note the UN and other agencies do not show us the side of Abu Shouk depicted in the photo. I'm drafting a post based on another unusual photo I've found which I hope to post soon.

There are some great posts by bloggers I want to write about but I am intensely fatigued right now. Finding it hard to keep up with news tracking, report and blog reading, linking, commenting and posting.

I've been posting at Congo Watch and Uganda Watch where, sad to say, the situations in N Uganda and the Congo are much worse than Darfur and terribly neglected. It is emotionally draining at times so I am grateful when someone stops to say hello.

It seems nobody is at all concerned as to what is going on in N Uganda and DRC where the savagery is beyond belief. Millions have perished, Many are hacked to death or mutiliated by rebels who believe they gain strength from their victims by cooking and eating them.

On that note, I send you kind regards and congratulations on your blog's first birthday, which I hope to convey at your blog soon. Just mentioning it here, so you don't think you and Tonto are being neglected :)

Thursday, May 12, 2005  

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