Brittle peace leaves life on the edge – Herald AM


At the outskirts of Fata Borno camp for conflict-displaced, Majda Abdullah braves the blazing afternoon sun as she loads up her donkey to return to her temporary shelter. It is 42 degrees Celsius, and even the camels here needs to rest in the shade.

“It is better this way”, she says. “In the morning and in the evening it is dangerous to even come to the edge of the camp. In the past three weeks, 6 women have been raped by Janjaweed.

Life is dangerous for Darfur's women. Pictured at NGO-run clinic in northern part of the province (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

Janjaweed ignore the African Union peacekeepers stationed at the camp, and are apparently unhindered by the Sudanese police barracks adjacent to that, as they loot donkeys, steal produce and violate women at will.

Others inside the camp bear witness to countless lootings, numerous sexual assaults, and constant intimidation.

In Darfur, everything: life, livelihoods, political progress, security, even humanitarian access for aidworkers – is on the edge right now.

On May 5 2006, the Sudanese government and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) group led by Minni Minawi, signed the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA). The DPA, however, like much else in Darfur, is balanced on a knife-edge.

Two rebel factions, the Justice and Equality Movement and the Abdul Wahid-led faction of the SLA, have refused to sign, citing unmet needs relating to security provisions, wealth-sharing and power distribution in Sudan, a vast country as large as western Europe. Darfur itself is the same size as France – and has but 2 tarmac roads.

And the Sudanese government is to disarm the Janjaweed, a militia group supplied by the Sudanese Army.

Majda has filled an old sack with sand to use as a seat for her pregnant elder sister, back in their 6ft by 10 ft shelter inside the camp. Ibrahim Nesha joins us as we start to move off. He says; “Unless the Janjaweed are stopped, we will not have peace. We Need protection. It is not safe

The Sudanese government has so far refused to allow a UN peacekeeping force enter Sudan to take over from the underfunded AU force.

GOAL cannot now reach some of the clinics and feeding centres established in outlying areas, serving some the 2 million Darfurians displaced by conflict and Janjaweed depredations.

As we make the short walk back to camp, Majda tells of her life prior to the fighting. Her village was raided by Janjaweed three years ago and she has not been back since.

But now life remains on the edge as she struggles to cope with the fallout from a peace that looks increasingly flawed.

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