Around 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.