FRANCE 24's Sophie Claudet and Virginie Herz are travelling to the Darfur region of Sudan to report on the conflict. If you have questions, send them in by clicking 'React.'
It's already been nearly a week since we began tagging along with the African Union, the only peacekeeping force for the Darfur region that is allowed by the Sudanese government. They are 7000 in number, deployed in a region as vast as France, with a limited mandate to protect civilians and to scope out the territory. The land is largely unstable, not to mention very fraught with tension. Upon our return to France, we put together a story on their day-to-day travails.
Currently, we are in their base at For Boranga, on the Chad border, a region characterized by the people's migrations so closely tied to the Darfur conflict.
Here, just as in the north or the west, just as in the refugee camp, just as in the villages, what struck us more than anything else, was to see women doing the work, whereas the men gossip languidly in the shade. It begs the question as to whether Darfur is populated by lazy macho types.
Even if we weren't feminists, just by virtue of being westerners we couldn't help but be stunned, saddened, yet at the same time admiring of these young women, these mothers of large families and grandmothers accomplished in backbreaking work - carrying kilos of wood, making brooks, and walking great distances all alone on foot to go to market.
The situation is even grimmer when you consider that it is often during their displacements that these women get raped. In areas where the AU has camps, there are special pratrols for accompanying and protecting this women. This question might seem naïve, but why don't their husbands, fathers, or brothers - less susceptible to attack - make these trips instead?
"It's tradition," reply the men of the region. During a discussion in a migrant camp at For Boranga, Sophie made a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that the women should revolt. She was met with large, incredulous eyes. The local chief burst into laughter.
Koutoum, North Darfur, June 4 – 8am
El-Fasher, June 3, 9am
A pizza in
The filtred light, the music, and the waiters in trousers resembling traditional tightly tied taubs (long shawls draped like saris), all create an ambience hearkening to a former era. The room facing the street is sizeable: food stalls, rotisseries, bread ovens… but the back room is more sombre, with the walls dyed a dark red. We are told that in the past, people danced there vivaciously and drank alcohol – forbidden today – notably, the super-strong local specialty made with fermented dates. The customers – the large majority of which are Sudanese with a few soldiers from the African Union and a few foreigners – must content themselves with orange and mango juice.
PS: For those of you who are interested, the pizza is not available for delivery; only take-away. We strongly recommend the vegetarian (two sizes: medium and large).
After several interviews with the local authorities (which you can watch on
They explain to us that these sandstorms herald the rainy season which has already begun south of
For the next leg of our adventures, we will go this afternoon to the north of
Khartoum, Tuesday May 29 - 4pm
Date created : 2007-06-09