Situation Deteriorating

Only weeks ago, we were enveloped into the eyes of Fatna (view video here) as she described bombs falling from the sky and bullets hounding her family of seven as she
struggled to keep them together in their journey to safety. No food, no water, nothing but the clothes on their back. They now live in Camp Farchana with 16,000 other refugees and have for the past five years. And today, in March 2008, we begin to hear this story again from the border of Chad/Darfur, where 13,000 new arrivals have no food, no water, no shelter, and are facing gunfire from all sides.

Since we left Fatna in Camp Farchana the situation has only worsened. Most International NGOs (INGOs) evacuated, gunman stationed at the border deter new Darfuri arrivals from crossing, and UNHCR missions to greet and process new arrivals are cancelled on a daily basis. Leaving those already in the camps with few services, and those stranded at the border with much less.

Today in the camps it takes up to six hours to get firewood for maybe on a few days. At one newly created camp inside Darfur, villagers walk 7-8 hours, one way, for water. Both of these are considered a necessity to their livelihood. Fatna’s husband was killed in the village market during an air raid. Reports from UNHCR claim that women and children arrive at the camps with stories of their husbands disappearing.

In a report from UNHCR, one Darfuri describes 3 bombs, 4 vehicles and over 100 janjaweed surrounding their village on horseback during the several aerial and ground raids since February 8, 2008. Villages scorched to the ground, “ghostowns” with smoldering grass huts and clay brick walls. A story we are all too familiar with, because it’s the same story we have heard for five years.

“People are dying. Everyday. People are escaping. People are suffering.” Adam (view full video here) begged us in Camp Kounoungo only weeks ago.

Recent attacks have scattered villagers between new and existing Internally Displaced People’s camps and the journey to Chad, a sojourn that is now considered equally dangerous to staying. Where is the international community when the situation is deteriorating? The reports and briefing notes include no information about a UNAMID presence in the area.

“Without your help we see no hope. We are desperate in need of international community.” Adam’s calling to us is still ever pressing.

It is US who needs to be taking action, and now.

Please sign the LEGACY LETTER TO BUSH which will be printed and delivered in April. Print out copies take it to your place of work/worship or community space.

Call 1-800 GENOCIDE – There is a new bill on the table, Senate Resolution 455 , that needs your Senator’s co-sponsorship. Your urgent action is needed, today is the day to act.

Sources:
UNHCR recent Briefing Notes

UNHCR Chad/Darfur Emergency Site

Genocide Foretold – NY Kristof Op-ed

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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