SUDAN WATCH: Controlled anarchy at Kalma camp in South Darfur, Sudan

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Controlled anarchy at Kalma camp in South Darfur, Sudan

35 year old Andrew Heavens (pictured below) is a journalist based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Meskel Square is his weblog about Ethiopia.

Here are some photos Andrew took during a three-day press trip to El-Fashir in Northern Darfur and Nyala in Southern Darfur with the African Union.

Text is from report by Refugees International Feb 6, 2006 about women in Kalma camp, Darfur by Advocates Sally Chin and Sarah Martin who visited Darfur in December.

Andrew Heavens

Photo: Andrew Heavens (right) with media on African Union helicopter from El-Fashir to Nyala in Darfur, Sudan (Courtesy Andrew Heavens)

"Controlled anarchy" is how one humanitarian worker described Kalma camp, in South Darfur. Located 17 kilometers outside of Nyala, Kalma camp is also one of Darfur's largest, with nearly 90,000 inhabitants.

Most have lived there for nearly two years, fleeing the fighting between rebel groups and government-sponsored Janjaweed militias.

Kalma Camp, South Darfur

Photo: African Union soldier at Kalma camp for internally displaced people near Nyala, southern Darfur, Sudan (Courtesy Andrew Heavens)

There is no Sudanese government presence or police in Kalma camp. After the government police attempted to arrest of one of the sheikhs, the angry population chased the police and the government camp managers out, burning down their offices. So the police are now stationed a few kilometers outside the entrance to the camp.

Kalma Camp, South Darfur

Photo: African Union soldier from Nigeria at Kalma camp for internally displaced people near Nyala, southern Darfur, Sudan (Courtesy Andrew Heavens)

Kalma Camp, South Darfur

In retaliation for being thrown out of the camp, the Sudanese government has cracked down hard on Kalma, blocking all commercial trade to the camp for months.

Recently, the African Union set up a police station inside the camp, bringing some modicum of security. AU civilian police, however, have only a couple of vehicles and one translator at each camp, making routine patrolling difficult.

Kalma Camp, South Darfur

Photo: African Union soldier controlling crowd at Kalma camp for internally displaced people near Nyala, southern Darfur, Sudan (Courtesy Andrew Heavens)

In addition to the commercial blockade which has depleted the market in the camp, the World Food Program didn't distribute food for months due to an internal dispute over registration. The displaced at Kalma camp depend almost exclusively on international assistance for their subsistence. They are far from their planting fields, their main source of livelihood before the conflict.

Kalma Camp, South Darfur

Photo: African Union soldiers at Kalma camp for internally displaced people near Nyala, southern Darfur, Sudan (Courtesy Andrew Heavens)

The women from Kalma venture out of the camps to gather firewood, both for their own use and to sell. They also collect the long grass that grows in the desert to feed their donkeys and to braid mats and rugs. Outside the camps they are at risk of attack from bandits and other armed groups. Rape is common. They also come into conflict with nomads who also depend on the same grass for their cattle and other animals.

Kalma Camp, South Darfur

Photo: Crowd at Kalma camp for internally displaced people near Nyala, southern Darfur, Sudan (Courtesy Andrew Heavens)

At other camps around Nyala, the African Union had set up a regular system of firewood patrols. They hadn't done so yet at Kalma, because of the lack of presence of government of Sudan police. "Since Ramadan," Khadija told RI, "I have only seen the African Union once. He spoke to us and told us to finish up our gathering and go back."

Kalma Camp, South Darfur

Photo: African Union soldier at Kalma camp for internally displaced people near Nyala, southern Darfur, Sudan (Courtesy Andrew Heavens)

Kalma Camp, South Darfur, Sudan

Photo: African Union soldier at Kalma camp for internally displaced people near Nyala, southern Darfur, Sudan. The placard reads: "We need international forces to protect us." (Courtesy Andrew Heavens)

desert outside El-Fashir, N Darfur

Photo: View of desert outside El-Fashir, northern Darfur, Sudan from African Union helicopter (Courtesy Andrew Heavens)

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