Monday, August 08, 2005

Apologies for the short blog hiatus (long story involving rains, a leaking roof and an unfortunate Thuraya satellite phone...), but please rest assured that aid worker community of Darfur is alive and well.

Well, alive and busy mostly - treating the increasing number of malaria cases and diarrhoea patients, passing out food, plastic sheeting and mosquito nets, repairing flooded latrines, and generally swamped with all the rest of the mad rainy season activities.

There has been an avid exchange of vital information going on at the aid distributions in camps this week - while we aid workers hear long diatribes on the quantity of oil needed for one month of cooking and the preferred style of blankets this season, the camp residents are returning to their homes with an ever-increasing vocabulary of aid worker jargon and three-letter acronyms.

My favourite one has still got to be the basic concept of 'IDP' (that's "internally displaced person" for the jargon-challenged...and just to clarify, IDPs differ from refugees in that they have not crossed a border to get to a camp).

While even some of my most highly educated friends or relatives at home would struggle to suggest what on earth the term 'IDP' means, there is no illiterate man, woman or child in Darfur who does not use it. People introduce themselves to me as "I am Mohammed, IDP", they talk about "IDP schools", "IDP hospitals" and "IDP latrines".

While 'IDP' seems easy enough to remember, some other acronyms have undergone hilarious transformations: in one camp I recently visited, I was sad to hear that IDPs would soon be receiving "non items" (as opposed to non-food items, or NFIs, the word that aid workers love to use for things like soaps, buckets, clothes or plastic sheeting).

Similarly, I was slightly worried to hear that a new type of 'NGO' (non-government organisation) had cropped up alongside the health, education, food and service providers - "that NGO responsible for security", known to the rest of us as the African Union soldiers.

While some might object to this cosy comparison between an aid agency and a military force, I suppose it's nice to know that the African Union troops, despite their woefully small numbers, are seen to be providing a service to the people of Darfur.

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At , Blogger pjournalist said...

keep up the good work


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