We had cell phone service early in the morning but the signal went dead well before noon. Our friend and translator, Bouba, has been in Goz Beida since Friday, going up with our car, supplies, and extra luggage, to supposedly meet us there when we flew in. Of course, we have not been able to leave Abeche, due to the rebel activity in Goz Beida and other areas.
I spoke with Bouba yesterday morning. He sounded a little more serious than his usual “no problem.” The rebels were inside of town and fighting it out with government forces as we spoke. I could hear, barely through the bad cell reception, the crackling of gunfire. He said he would stay safe, and we would talk later. In the afternoon, I spoke with Bouba again. He sounded calmer but still not the Bouba we know. “I am fine, “ he said and then, after pausing for a moment, added “For now.”
Today has been a quiet day here in Abeche, but it seems like the locals are preparing for some activity. Not having cell service, we had not been able to communicate with Youssouf, our fixer (guy that knows how to get things done here in town). However he did come and quickly dropped off water, bread, and cheese. He said, “I spoke with Bouba this morning. He said rebels left Goz Beida and are coming to Abeche.” He then asked if we are good and said goodnight (it was only 2:30pm here).
We are still in the UNHCR fitness room, just steps from their main compound. Suzanne, from UNHCR, has told us that, if anything happened, we can expect to hear from them, since they are very aware of our presence. We are in a good location. Around here, it is mostly humanitarian organizations’ compounds and no military or government buildings. I don’t expect fighting to come this way, but we are prepared to move quickly, if needed. The most probable move would be to the French base next to the airport.