"The plague from Darfur" continues spreading into Chad (via Mick Hartley)
Mick Hartley (Politics & Culture)
March 29, 2007
The Plague from Darfur
Catherine Philip in the Times, on the thousands of Chadians so desperate that their only hope was to head for the refugee camps over the border in Darfur:
For three years, the villagers on this side of the border have watched in horror as a flood of refugees poured over, bringing tales of the slaughter of children, rape of women and burning of their villages by the Janjawid, the Arab militia. Now the Janjawid have followed them into Chad, coopting Arab tribes to wage war on their black African neighbours, ending centuries of peaceful coexistence.
What happened in Mrs Anouf’s village, Devis, came straight out of Darfur. She was harvesting the fields when she heard gunfire and looked up to see horsemen, their heads wrapped in white scarves, bearing down on them with machineguns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. By the time the raid was over, Devis had been razed, its mudwalled houses smoking ruins, the tall jars of stored okra broken, the bodies of two dozen men, women and children lying bullet-riddled on the ground.
Her husband limped over to the stubble where she was hiding, bearing the terrible news that two of their children had been taken. “The plague from Darfur has arrived,” he said. “It is a genocide, there is no other word for it,” said the Sultan of Darsila, the spiritual leader of the region, who has tried and failed to broker peace between the neighbours-turned-enemies. “In the past we have always solved our differences peacefully, but this time it is political. This is a fire that has spread from Sudan.” [...]
At Devis Mr Sulaiman walks over to a giant toppled food urn and points to the hole that the Janjawid made near its base before throwing in a flame, the simple but efficient means to ensure that not a grain of food remains. “There is nothing left to come back to,” he says. “That was their intention — for us never to come back.”
Back in the sun-blasted settlement outside Goz Amer, Mrs Anouf cries for her two lost children, who have not been seen since the day they were snatched from the fields. Then she cries for the two that survived and their future in this desperate place.
To the south, yet another crisis is unfolding as tens of thousands of refugees pour over the border from the Central African Republic. The conflict has begun to spread there like a contagion. The plague from Darfur rides on.
Video report here.