May 30, 2008

Saving Darfur

It hasn’t quite reached the levels of ferocity seen between Alex van der Waal and John Prendergast last year, but there’s been lively debate under way at the Guardian’s Comment is Free site about Darfur and the role of peacekeepers. It opened with Julie Flint, co-author of Darfur: A New History of a Long War, […]

May 23, 2008

New Militia for Darfur

[video:youtube:EwgQIeRjCk0] If you thought international efforts to find peace in Darfur were going nowhere, think again. It seems that while I wasn’t looking, the “global citizenry” has been organising itself into a force to take on the Janjaweed and Sudanese government. Admittedly at the moment it comprises only Peacepipe Repairman and Kitten but as I […]

May 22, 2008

Shopping in Sudan

Darfur is not exactly a shoppers’ paradise. The sand and heat make it a bit much to spend the whole day browsing the stalls, although parking is not really a problem. But it’s amazing what you can find. In El Fasher I’ve seen jars of sour cherries, bottles of Spanish olive oil and fridges packed […]

May 11, 2008

Khartoum’s Pregnable Fortress

The Khartoum government has an iron grip on its capital. Machine gun emplacements guard every bridge, major artery and government building. So how did rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement drive into Omdurman, no more than a stone’s throw across the Nile from the capital itself? One of my good contacts in Khartoum said […]

April 24, 2008

On the Road with Darfur’s Hybrid Peacekeeping Force

The helmets have been painted blue, but no-one has got around to removing the Amis logos from the old African Union vehicles No-one can doubt the enthusiasm of the new UN-AU hybrid force (Unamid) in Darfur. Morale has risen and its officers seem to have rediscovered the can-do attitude they lost as the old African […]

April 14, 2008

Travelling Trolleys

Trolleys in El Fasher So that’s what happens to luggage trolleys at Heathrow once their wheels are deemed too wonky. They end up at El Fasher airport, North Darfur, where they are wheeled up and down approximately 10 metres of paving before they get stuck in the sand.

April 14, 2008

Olympic Dreams

Abubaker Kaki is world indoor 800m champion. He trains with blocks of concrete for weights There can’t be many Olympic medal prospects who use bits of rubble for weights and train on a track with gaping holes. Yet Abubaker Kaki Khamis, a genuine hope for Sudan in the 800m, has to make do with the […]

April 11, 2008

No Football Please, We’re Janjaweed

Sileia’s football pitch Sileia in West Darfur was snatched by rebels of the Justice and Equality Movement (Jem) last year. It was recaptured by the Government of Sudan in February, using Antonov bombers and the Janjaweed to do most of the work. It is a dusty, broken-down town reached by a bone-crunching three-hour drive along […]

April 8, 2008

In Event of Attack First Remove Tie

This post is a couple of days old, for reasons I may explain once I am out of Darfur with no possible risk of arrest… “So should we be worried?” I asked the man sitting across the table from me at the Humanitarian Aid Commission in El Fasher, North Darfur. He didn’t answer. Instead, he […]

April 5, 2008

Boycotts and Brickbats

The Liberal Democrats – never ones to fail to jump on a bandwagon just as everyone else is realising that it is a pointless exercise – have written to Gordon Brown asking him to boycott the Olympics opening ceremony. They have joined the clamour for action to be taken over Tibet, Darfur and China’s generally […]

March 17, 2008

Portrait of Darfur

General Rokero commands Jebel Mara for the Abdul Wahid faction of the Sudan Liberation Army Opheera McDoom, the Reuters correspondent in Khartoum, wrote recently of her frustration at the lack of progress towards peace in Darfur. “I have been writing on Darfur for 4 1/2 years. More than ever, I am wondering how much difference […]

July 20, 2007

Fleeing Darfur

We had been sitting in the tiny, twin-engined aircraft for three hours when I first caught sight of the rugged green peaks of the Nuba Mountains. The plane fell abruptly through a hole in the black sky.  Mike the pilot jabbed a finger through the left-hand window. ‘It’s your lucky day! There’s cloud all around, […]

March 1, 2007

Inside Out – March 07

When Gary Knight and Rod Nordland appeared at the Frontline Club in February, they were just back from a Newsweek assignment in Darfur. Gary’s pictures and Rod’s narrative reminded us what a humanitarian crisis Darfur remains and how the situation continues to deteriorate while the world is not watching. In fact, Knight and Nordland represented […]