Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Miraculously, there's some more good news from Kalma camp this week - the ban on 'commercial traffic' between the camp and Nyala town (which lies around 15km to the North-West of Kalma) is about to be lifted.

The aid agencies who work inside Kalma camp have been struggling to get this result for months - since the governor of South Darfur first instituted the ban seven months ago, it has created a lot of problems for the people of Kalma camp.

Essentially, the ban has been trapping the displaced families inside the camp - since it often prevented not just vehicles but even horse or donkey carts from moving back and forth between the camp and the town, people had very little chance to earn a living or set up little shops or markets inside the camp. Prices for basic goods - like clothes, vegetables or soap - immediately increased to amounts that were beyond the reach of many of the mothers I've met in Kalma.

For the 100,000+ people piled on top of each other on a few square kilometers of desert sand, this has been a frustrating and intensely debilitating situation (and it's not as if things in Darfur weren't bad enough already to start off with).

It seems that - after more than 200 days - the local authorities will finally be lifting the commercial ban on December 15th. Together with the recently revived firewood patrols around the camp, this small step will hopefully help to make life just a little bit easier for the people of Kalma. It's been long overdue.


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