For now we are in N’Djamena for another day, preparing our luggage and cutting out everything we once considered a necessity. There is a fuel shortage in the East, and we might not get away with the extra weight we usually do. We head out to collect our permits in the afternoon. A sand storm blocks the usual view to the River Cheri and ceases most business for the day. A new discovery! Soccer fields lay tucked behind a busy street. Full of players not bothered by the sand, and stench of something burning.
I am in pretty low spirits, as I am expecting to see the refugee camps in worse shape than my last trip. In Camp Djabal, in particular, there have been four unintentional fires that left more than a hundred families without shelter. Last June, during Chadian rebel fighting two supplies tents were set on fire that held the emergency supplies for this camp. I wonder how these families are fairing. I wonder if Adef, who we met last time in Camp Djabal, will be there. He often went to back to Darfur for food and supplies because there wasn’t enough in the camp. Is he still alive?
The reports we are receiving from our Darfuri friends are astonishingly terrible. We are acting too late to save so many. Yet, I know we must continue to help bring peace for those who have been strong enough to survive this long. We must do all that we can. We must be louder and stronger. The one thing I know we cannot do is accept business-as-usual for Darfur. Washington and our leaders have continued with the same policies since 2003. All this time, Darfur has only worsened.
There is not time for us to back down pressure and give Obama more time to address Darfur. He will soon meet with his Special Envoy for Sudan. A man who traveled with Obama to the very refugee camps we will visit in two days. Both men have seen and heard the stories of Darfur. Now they need to hear from us.