I’ve told you “we’re going back” three times in the past, but this one is a little different. The last time we left Chad after our visits to the refugee camps in the east, we left on a French military plane, being evacuated in the middle of an all out coup attempt that left an already unstable country and region in even worse conditions.
Soon after, the Sudanese government attacked Darfuri villages, displacing tens of thousands of more civilians. This was in February 2008. Of the over 13,000 that reached the border between Chad and Darfur, 8,000 are still sitting in the desert, waiting to be transferred to camp Mile, according to UNHCR. The insecurity has stopped the transfers indefinitely.
Services have been reduced and interrupted at almost all of the camps in Chad. Chadian security officers working at the camps have been attacked and killed, and humanitarian aid workers have been targets. Our friends in the camps, mostly women and children, continue to live the life of a refugee—but the life of a refugee in grave danger.
We are returning after ourselves having been in some danger. That also makes it different. Our experience at the hotel in N’Djamena had an effect on Katie-Jay and I and on all the people around us. We are not taking this lightly. We will take all precautions possible and will make decision based on the best information from experts on the ground.
We want to continue putting a face on the numbers and allowing the voice of the victims to be heard. The innocent civilians of Darfur need immediate protection, and sovereignty cannot be an excuse for inaction from the entire world.
Join us for i-ACT, staring June 10th and for twelve consecutive days of webcasts, interactive blog, and opportunities for action. Scott Warren, the outgoing National Director of STAND: A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition, and Colin O’Brien, who served as the National High School Outreach Coordinator for STAND, will be going with us on the journey. Students have been the leaders of the Darfur movement, and we are looking for students and their communities to increase the heat and raise the noise this summer to bring peace to Darfur.