Thursday, October 05, 2006

Aid workers in Darfur persevere against violence and suspicion

EL SALLAM CAMP, Sudan Tribal leaders gathered in tense silence in a straw hut at Darfur's El Sallam camp, facing international aid workers who'd come to broker an agreement between the refugees and a Sudanese aid group that residents wanted to bar from the camp.

Clad in flowing white cotton robes and turbans, the tribal leaders gave a long list of reasons to prevent aid workers from Siha, a Sudanese non-governmental organization, from coming anywhere near the camp.

"How can we trust that they aren't spies for the government," said one representative of the refugees Wednesday, recalling that the Sudanese army had chased his people from their villages more than two years ago.

Some 80,000 refugees survive in El Sallam and the nearby camp of Abu Shouk, a cluster of huts, mud brick houses and tents that sprawls on the outskirts of the capital of North Darfur state, El Fasher. They are among 2.5 million people made homeless by three years of fighting between Khartoum and rebel groups in the vast, arid Darfur region of western Sudan. Read more >>>

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