In Darfur: A Travel Diary (Day 13)

In Darfur: A Travel Diary (Day 13)

Editor's Note: In March, Kurt Pelda, Africa Bureau Chief of the Swiss daily the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), traveled to eastern Chad on the border with the Sudanese crisis region of Darfur: a trip that was documented in a diary published in English on World Politics Review and that would see him eventually turning back from the border due to inadequate security conditions. In late October, Pelda returned to the region and crossed the border into Darfur, where he accompanied a Darfur rebel group. The diary of his trip was published on the NZZ Online in German, and World Politics Review here presents it in English.

The Eyes of the Janjaweed

A Spontaneous Hunting Expedition

Hilef is small market town on the southern edge of the Sahara. Trucks set out from the Libyan oasis of Kufra and drive directly through the desert, in order to deposit their goods here. The market is full of products that either have been imported via Libya or produced in Libya: like the blue cans of Pepsi or the barrels of gas and diesel. Sudanese vehicles then transport the goods to their ultimate destinations. Despite its small size, Hilef is thus an important crossroads. Libyan fuel is cheaper than Sudanese fuel here, even though the latter is produced domestically.

Suleiman Marjan is a commander in the Sudan Liberation Army, whose leader Abdul Wahid Mohammed an-Nur lives in exile in Paris. Unlike Abdul Wahid and the majority of the SLA fighters, however, Suleiman is not a Fur. He is a member rather of the small Meidob tribe. The Meidob live in an area that extends from North Darfur to the Libyan border. Some of them have even settled in the Kufra oasis. Suleiman Marjan is their leader and thereby controls a strategically important zone, containing the supply routes from Libya to Darfur.

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