Another deadline for Darfur peace talks comes and goes today, and nothing happens - except that I am starting to lose track of how often I have had to write this. As of late afternoon, meetings have not yet taken place and even if they do start soon, many (including me) are leaning towards the opinion that this round could be complete failure due to the internal power struggles within one of the main rebel groups.
The displaced people in the camps that I visit ask me for news. They are desperate for information and cling to every scrap of newspaper or barely audible radio programme they manage to come across, and this even though they are under no illusion that the news they are getting is independent or accurate (with Darfur still in a 'state of emergency', the government does not even have to pretend that there is any press freedom).
Especially in the more remote field locations, speaking to a khawajia aid worker like me is often one of the only ways people have of hearing about the things that are discussed in far-away lands in their name.
Today, I almost feel guilty having to tell people that meetings have not yet started and may be delayed yet again. "Ah well, even if it starts late, at least this will be the last round of talks anyway," one of the elderly sheiks tells me patiently. "That's what they are saying on the radio - that this will be the final solution."
I don't have the heart to tell him that I disagree. If I had lost half of my family to a brutal conflict that forced me to spend the last two years inside a tattered plastic shelter and scrape out an existence on no more than international handouts, I suppose I'd try to stay hopeful too.
Tags: Sudan, Darfur, aid worker, peace talks, Abuja