Sunday, November 06, 2005

Some hopeful news comes across my desk today. I'm happy to report that the aid agency managing Kalma in South Darfur has finally been allowed back into the camp. For the past 10 weeks, the international community had been trying to exert pressure on the powerful South Darfur governor in every way possible to achieve this feat. It seems that something they did finally broke the deadlock and wore down the authorities' dogged attempts to make life in Kalma camp as miserable as possible for the displaced families. It may just be a five-month respite until the contract runs out again - but for now, this is good news for the residents of Kalma.

Unfortunately, I hear from a colleague in North Darfur today that problems of preventing aid agency access and arbitrary arrests have also been occuring in Abu Shouk camp, with aid agencies being denied access to the camp on two days this week. El Fasher has been getting tense recently, and the governor has declared a state of emergency that allows police and national security forces to search houses and detain people more or less at will.

I always find it a bit difficult to comprehend how authorities like the North Darfur governor manage to warn people of the grave threats of imminent rebel attacks at the same time that they insist to the local press that Darfur is a haven of calm and tranquillity and the NGO reports of ongoing insecurity are completely made up.

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