“Darfur is…the epicenter of an earthquake, whose waves create all the troubles in the countries around,” Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner on Refugees, said today in a press conference we attended. The destruction created by that earthquake is mind blowing and heart breaking. What’s really sad is that, if this was a real earthquake, not this man-made catastrophe created by the Sudanese Goverment, the world would have responded with an out pour of action and caring. Many care about Darfur, but do enough of us care enough to do what it takes to stop these waves from destroying any more lives?
It was a pretty intense day, for many reasons. Being at the press conference and hearing the latest from High Commissioner Guterres was a privilege. The people at UNHCR, especially Ann, have been more than wonderful, giving us time and attention, when they have so many things going on.
It was also intense because we really wanted to confirm a flight out to Abeche, the little town in Eastern Chad that serves as hub for all aid going to the camps and from which we would be able to get to a camp very quickly. We could not confirm a flight. Having the High Commissioner here in N’d has restricted the number of planes going out. We ran to the World Food Program, wanting to get on their list, but it was already filled for Friday and Saturday. That would mean that we cannot get on a plane until Monday. This caused a lot of anxiety and frustration for Stacey and I. We started thinking about driving to Abeche. It would be a 15 to 17 hour trip across the desert, going on not very smooth roads. Ali went out looking for a car and came back with a toyota landcruiser, the owner, and a driver. We went around to feel it out. The owner needed an answer right away, whether we would take the car or not. It felt too pressured, and we wanted to talk it out. I also had to run up and call a reporter for NBC in LA, Laurel Erickson (who ran a story on Wednesday), and a Daily Breeze reporter, so it all felt so rushed. After Stace stayed and talked with Ali, she came upstairs and we decided to not do the drive just yet, since there is still a chance we could get on a flight on Saturday.
Well, strange as it might be, we really want to get closer to that earthquake epicenter. I hope you do not get disappointed in that we do not get there sooner, but we’ll keep working on it. Christmas is coming. Although many around the world do not celebrate that particular holiday, I do think that almost everyone shares that spirit of giving and community at certain times in the calendar. Please extend that spirit just a bit farther than your immediate community. Chad and Darfur are not that far away. When it comes to humanity, we are all in the same community.