Monday, July 18, 2005

As I read today's emails and speak to colleagues in South Darfur, my attention turns back to Kalma, Darfur's monster camp that is home to about 150,000 IDPs (that's internally displaced people to the jargon-challenged).

The government has been trying to break up Kalma for months after discovering that they can no longer comfortably control and monitor people in the camp with their regular level of spying and intimidation.

First came the economic sanctions (hey, at least they're trying to learn from their own experiences in diplomacy here) in the shape of a commercial traffic ban for the entire camp. This effectively cut off everyone's access to the towns and markets and meant that people could no longer get the vegetables and foods that they need to supplement the staple food aid they received.

While the ban produced a robust increase in malnutrition rates, it didn't actually succeed in getting anyone to move.

Neither did lies, bribes, threats, or deadlines for bulldozers.

Even the arrival of the rains and the flooding of thousands of homes have not helped - people are refusing to budge to a new (smaller and less secure) site. The terror of what awaits them outside of their camp is quite simply too big.

Now wait a minute - why don't they just try to make it safer outside of the camps, you might ask. Surprisingly (and after months of intense lobbying from the UN/NGO community on this front), the government seems to be realising what the obvious answer to the question is and has begun deploying a decent amount of soldiers around the site of the new camp.

Unfortunately, the effort that is going into this deployment (or for that matter any disarmament of militias beyond the perimeter of the camp) is nowhere near as great as the effort currently going into a parallel campaign of intimidation that has got the government's fingerprints written all over it.

Each day brings a new report of violent attacks inside Kalma, targeting water points, medical clinics, NGO compounds and IDPs themselves. Shootings have become a regular nightly occurence inside the camp, and even in Nyala town (45 min down the road) there are nightly armed break-ins into aid workers offices and guest houses.

In an almost hysterical development, there has been some success for the government: one lone little IDP has arrived at Al Salam, the new camp, and has declared himself the first resident! Everyone is still debating whether or not he has been planted there, but it's just as likely he's simply a nutter (among 150,000 people you should always be able to find at least one).

In the meantime, the remaining 25,000 or so people who are meant to move to the new site are waiting for one simple thing: personal safety. Somehow, it just seems to be too hard to offer.

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At , Blogger Vasco Pyjama said...

Hello Sleepless. I am shortly in a few weeks to be mobilised to Kabul with an INGO.

I blog on, but you need to be 'friendslisted' by me to view half of my more private entries.

I got referred to your blog by

But hey... have you seen this site

At , Blogger Vasco Pyjama said...

Argh... that's rather.

Hyphen, not underscore.


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