Saturday, July 30, 2005

Another early morning flight on my favourite airline - with today's highlight being a quite intimate encounter with a particularly hands-on (female) security agent at Khartoum airport (women do not have to go through the regular metal detectors here - we just disappear off into a little cubicle with a nice airport lady). Bit of a sudden awakening, but I suppose it's not like I'm getting much other physical action at the moment...

We glide across Darfur smoothly, and immediately there's a lot of gossip and news to catch up on back at the office.

The Sudanese President has visited Darfur last week and made all the right politically correct noises on peace, security - even unmentionable issues like rape.

While this is encouraging, it still doesn't hide the facts on the ground: NGO updates I'm handed on last weekend's clashes near Shangil Tobay prove that the fighting has not stopped, with casualties treated at NGO clinics including four children with bullet and shrapnel wounds.

I'm told that the African Union is still investigating the incidents - and while we would all love to believe they can make a difference in places like this, I am starting to worry even about their own safety (and so would anyone else who has ever seen the woefully under-equipped two vehicles that they've currently got for 150 soldiers...or the miserly two magazines of ammunition each of them has for defending themselves - never even mind others!)

But I suppose for now I'd better worry about my overflowing email inbox, and leave the rants for another day. Despite all the new worries and stories, it's good to be back in the field.

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At , Blogger sands of sudan said...

i just heard about the news..will the death of john garang have an effect on the situation in your rigion?

At , Blogger Vasco Pyjama said...

Sands of Sudan beat me to the question. Let us know how you are. This is from ICG:

The Tragic Death of John Garang

Brussels, 1 August 2005: The International Crisis Group offers its condolences to the people of Sudan and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) following the tragic death of First Vice-President and SPLM Chairman Dr John Garang.

Dr Garang has left a legacy of peace, and we hope that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement which he negotiated and signed can still take root in Sudan. The SPLM and the Government of Sudan must continue their efforts to implement the agreement in order to fulfil his vision for peace and end the cycle of violent conflict.

The rioting and looting that have followed the announcement of Dr Garang's death threaten to further destabilise the situation if not brought under control. Calm and tolerance must now be promoted by all sides to help salvage this dangerous moment. The international community must continue to strongly support the peace agreement and help the SPLM at this critical time for it.

It is through the continued implementation of the peace agreement and a lasting end to hostility in Sudan that Dr Garang's legacy can best be remembered and honoured.


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