June 10, 2006

UN diplomats visit Darfur war victims in Chad

By Evelyn Leopold

CAMP GOUROUKOUN, Chad (Reuters) - Mohammed Ibrahim, 18,
waited patiently in the boiling sun to show United Nations
Security Council ambassadors the welts burned into his back and
head by Sudan's marauding Janjaweed Arab militiamen.

The ghastly tale repeats itself throughout border hamlets
of Sudan and neighboring Chad, whose boundary is often a line
on a map rather than a serious frontier with the same ethnic
groups on both sides. The Janjaweed killers, once organized by
Sudan to put down a rebellion, also return again and again.

"They stole cattle. They tied up my feet and hands and
kidnapped me and took me away with them. They put some burning
plastic on my back, Ibrahim said on Saturday lifting his shirt.
"I feel sick right now. Terrible headache."

The 15-nation Security Council delegation spent five days
in Sudan and then came to see the victims of the three-year old
Darfur conflict that spilled into Chad. At least 200,000 people
have died in Darfur and 2 million are living in squalid camps.
More than 235,000 fled to Chad.

In eastern Chad, half the U.N, delegation visited
Gouroukoun, a camp of about 10,000 displaced Chadians near the
town of Goz Beida, some 110 km (70 miles) from the Sudanese
border, while the rest went to a nearby camp for Sudanese

"It's awful," said Britain's U.N. ambassador Emyr Jones
Parry." Everyone has to do more."

Like many of the dusty camps, there is a flagrant shortage
of men in Gouroukoun. They have died in the conflict or are
fighting in it.

"We have been attacked by the Janjaweed. We have become
widows. Our girls have been raped and our men killed. Our
properties were destroyed," said Hanne Adam Ali, in a
presentation to the U.N. group and about 1,000 displaced
people, including children dressed in rags and eagerly shaking
hands with the foreigners.


But a speaker in a white turban, who was not identified,
said the international community could have done more to give
them food and "not just plastic for shelter." He asked how
citizens from another country could walk in and murder and

Laura Perez, a spokeswoman for the U.N. refugee agency,
UNHCR, said that four Chadian villages, who welcomed their
displaced compatriots, would be equipped with water and the
Gouroukoun camp people relocated.

In the interim, they are living on food they brought with
them and hand outs from the local population.

Security is dreadful for many Sudanese camp dwellers and
relief workers, said Ana Liria-France, the UNHCR representative
in Chad. The rebel Sudan Liberation Army has forcibly recruited
young men and little boys. Even teachers in the camp are

Despite a signed agreement, Chadian security forces are
scarce with most tracking their own insurgents. Chad President
Idriss Deby, himself the target of four coups, survived a rebel
offensive in April that brought the country to the brink of
civil war.

Deby wants an international peacekeeping force, which the
Security Council plans to send to Darfur but has not figured
out how to deal with Chad's own crisis.

To add to the misery, Sudan now has aligned itself with
warlords in Chad as part of its counter-insurgency strategy in

"Both countries now openly support rebel activities on
their respective territories," UNHCR said in briefing notes for
council members.

Asked what people wanted the Security Council, the most
powerful U.N. body, to do, young Ibrahim said, "peace" and "a
solution to bring us food."