Among Darfur Rebels and Refugees: A Road Diary (Day 7)

Among Darfur Rebels and Refugees: A Road Diary (Day 7)

Editor's Note: In March, Kurt Pelda, Africa Bureau Chief of the Swiss daily the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, traveled to eastern Chad on the border with the Sudanese crisis region of Darfur. Over 200,000 Sudanese refugees live in eastern Chad, having fled the violence in Darfur. The region likewise serves as staging grounds for the Darfur rebels fighting against the Sudanese government. During his three weeks traveling in the region, Pelda kept a diary, which provides a portrait of the Darfur conflict that is perhaps unrivaled in its detail and nuance. In daily installments through the beginning of August, World Politics Review presents this important document for the first time in English, concluding with an epilogue penned by Pelda exclusively for WPR. Read other entries.

Day 7: Legions of Do-Gooders
Mutton, Tomatoes and Fruit Juice

5 March

With its some 200,000 residents, Abéché is the second largest city in Chad after N'Djamena. Nonetheless, there is not a single paved road here. The omnipresent sand and dust create the impression that the town is located on the edge of the desert, even though the Sahara is still another 300 kilometers to the North. Abéché is a commercial center: the point of departure for various routes that lead through the desert to Libya. But the city is also the base of operations for the countless relief organizations that attend to the approximately 230,000 refugees from Darfur and the allegedly over 100,000 internally displaced Chadians in the Southeast. The smart four-by-fours of the aid workers provoke the envy of the locals, of course. From time to time, they are robbed or stolen. The vehicles disappear and then turn up again being used by the army or by the "Toros-Boros," as the locals call the Darfur rebels.

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