An Update from the border of Chad-Darfur

Children at campAround 5,000 newly resettled refugees have begun to build 2-3 kilometers from the Chad-Darfur border. They are not concentrated but rather spread out in small pockets, sometimes only a few families huddle together near a wadi – which are soon to be filled with water as the rainy season has already begun. Another 5,000 or more refugees have been resettled in camp Kounoungo and Mile. Although, we will not make it to the border to visit these refugees ourselves this time, we were told a little about why they have chosen to stay so close to danger.

After the bombings in February during the military coup here in Chad, many refugees fled with nothing but what they had on their backs – a common story that we hear. However, in the months up to now, some have been able to return to gather belongings, and most importantly, livestock. Because of their mandate and resource concerns, UNHCR cannot allow livestock to be in or near the camps. So those who were able to recover their life savings chose to retain and care for it until protection is provided, and they can return. JEM (Justice and Equality Movement) is also present in the areas where many have settled, and they have even built several schools to serve their community. In some instances, parts of the family were relocated to the camps, while others remain behind to care for the future of the family.

Bombings continue in Darfur. Field teams who check on these clusters of refugees can hear and feel them when out on mission. We must not forget that when the media turns to another spotlight, that the lives of those in Darfur are still in grave danger. That when we feel too tired to send that email or too cynical to call the white house, that a life is being threatened. For Moubarakh, the boy next door, and for the thousands that continue to make the dangerous journey to the border in search of some normality, we must ACT now.

Katie-Jay keeps i-ACT running on several levels. Much of her work entails coordinating partnerships with other grassroots organizations and implementing the campaigns developed by Gabriel and seeing through the details. She graduated from Portland State University with a BA in Sociology and a focus on Community Development. She has previously worked as a community organizer in Thailand, Guatemala, and with grassroots organizations across the United States.

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6 Responses to “An Update from the border of Chad-Darfur”
  1. Linda Haskins says:

    Your courage and commitment are being supported by those of us unable to go to the region but able to pray for your safety and your mission. Take heart, righteous person, that you are being lifted up by those who are one with your in spirit.
    Blessings,
    Linda H.

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Thank you Linda for your prayers – our courage and commitment is representative of all our community in the States. We do if for them and for the refugees – I personally would could not turn away from it!
      Peace, ktj

    • scott says:

      Linda,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. We take this journey knowing that we’re going representing not ourselves, but the thousands of Americans who care so much about this issue. All of your energy allows us to consider,

      All my best,

      Scott

  2. Roni says:

    You are not alone nor are you forgotten! You are always on our minds and in our hearts. We are working to end the violence in Darfur and in the camps and we are working for your freedom from violence…

    • Gabriel says:

      Hi Roni:
      Thank you for the message to the refugees. We will work to get it to them. They are going through difficult times, with all this instability in the region. Thank you for working to help bring peace to their home.

  3. Lisa Goldner says:

    KTJ, no matter how many times I see them reported in various means, the growing numbers of dead and the displaced is mind-boggling, especially considering the numbers of years we’ve remained on the sidelines sheltered behind resolutions and talks that take us nowhere. Thank you for highlighting some of the reasons for the fractured families, split between sustaining their livestock/property and holding onto their family unity. Where the media falls far short of needed coverage, we must pick up the slack in our efforts. Thanks, to Team i-ACT (field team AND home-based support crew) for leading the way and pressing us into continued activism.

    Shukran,
    Lisa

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