I was hoping that this would be my first journal where I could tell you what it felt like to be sitting down with refugees that I’ve been working to help for years. That I could finally say that Scott and I had represented the thousands of students working to bring peace to the region. That we could finally show you a video where the refugees could tell you what they really needed, not politicians or NGOs. Unfortunately, thing in Chad do not go as planned.
Despite waking up today to a phone call that we would be heading out to Goz Beida within hours, we soon learned that rebels had attacked the city and we’d be stuck in Abeche until at least Monday. We’re living in a small room in the UNHCR fitness center, which is well equipped with AC, a toilet and 3 mattresses. Compared to most of the UNHCR workers who had to evacuate their homes last night, we’ve got it pretty good here. Needless to say, it’s going to get old pretty quickly, but we could be a lot worse off.
The idea of looking forward to something has been on my mind a lot today. Personally, I’m looking forward to getting out of Abeche, to eventually spending some time in Tanzania at the end of the summer, to seeing my family in August and to getting back to Brown again. I am almost completely certain that all of those things are going to happen. I’m trying to imagine the kinds of things that I would be looking forward to if I were a refugee.
I imagine that fleeing Darfur to go into Chad, I would be looking forward an end to violence. Irish EUFOR troops had to defend refugee camps in Djabal today, because they were under attack from armed soldiers in the east. Violence, it seems, is ubiquitous in the region. I think I would be looking forward to educating my children and regaining some sense of normalcy. But, with insufficient resources and constant violence, it’s difficult to establish a reliable infrastructure in most refugee camps. I would certainly be looking forward to returning to my home, whatever was left of it. For refugees that have been in camps for 4 or 5 years, this hope would certainly be hard to hold onto.
Looking forward to something that you know is going to happen is a real comfort, one that I think many refugees can’t enjoy. The international community seems unable to make any real promises to the refugees that they can uphold. Without the promise of peace or a safe return home, what is there to look forward to? Although I’m not sure when, I know that with enough pressure on our governments, we will be able to finally make these promises and start giving the refugees something to look forward to