Full refund within 30 days if you're not completely satisfied.
Effects of war
Photo: O xfam /Don McCullin. S ee page 2 for photo details
It’s the worst humanitarian crisis in the world... and it’s about to get worse. Darfur first came to global attention during the tenth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide in 2004, even then months after Amnesty first reported the Sudanese government were carrying out airstrikes on villages as well as killing, torturing and displacing thousands of people. Since then Darfur has stood as a monument to failure, a living example of what the international community doesn’t do to protect civilians. So after over three years of this, how could it possibly get any worse? Currently, the displaced have to deal with blazing temperatures and lack of shelter. In two months time they will also face the rains. Oxfam is providing water to 530,000 people and, with no apparent end to the crisis in sight, is running out of cash. That is why they launched an appeal for the relatively modest amount of £5 million. They are well aware that they would be challenged on such a basic approach, that people would argue that you can’t just keep giving aid to people. But as the press release said: ‘The millions of innocent people caught up in this outrage can’t afford to wait for politicians to agree. They need to be kept alive.’ www.oxfam.org.uk, tel 0870 333 2500
Darfur ‘One of the saddest facts of the [last] three years ... is that the people who were in the camps then are still there today, no doubt beginning to lose hope of ever being able to return to their homes and former lives,’ said John Holmes, the Under-Secretary-General for the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), during his briefing on Darfur to the UN Security Council. He spoke of his visits to the camps, and of stories he had heard such as the rape of two young girls by police officers. ‘As I walked through As Salaam camp near El Fasher, in North Darfur, hundreds of little boys and girls trailed in my wake. I couldn’t help but wonder how many might yet suffer this horror,’ he said. Violence against aid workers is a major factor, he said, referring to a government raid on an NGO compound in Nyala in January. Twenty people, including NGO workers, UN and AMIS staff, were arrested and abused. The problem lies in the Sudanese government’s belief that aid staff are engaged in ‘inappropriate “political” behaviour’, whereby aid workers advise civilians of their human rights, Holmes told the council. ‘In other words, giving food and shelter is acceptable, speaking out about violations of humanitarian law is not,’ he said. Holmes said no one can be absolved of harming civilians and aid workers: not the rebels, nor the government forces. ‘The response I had from rebel leaders was very encouraging as far as it went. They entirely accepted the need to respect humanitarian workers and made promises that whenever they were told about humanitarian vehicles that were stolen they would do their best to get them back,’ he said. Translating these promises into reality is another matter, however, as Holmes acknowledged that rebel movements are increasingly fragmented on the ground.
Chad The situation in Chad has ‘significantly degraded’ since the council visited the country in 2006, according to John Holmes. In eastern Chad the number of displaced rose from 50,000 to 140,000 in just a few months. Those in refugee and IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps have been forcibly recruited into the fighting, including children, said Holmes. Chadian locals have been hosting Darfur
refugees and Chadian IDPs, and this has stretched their natural resources, especially water, to the limit. ‘The humanitarian response must be stronger, faster, and more strategic,’ Holmes told the council. He envisions a long-term plan that will directly help those in need, prioritising the relocation of the refugee camps that are currently exposed to attacks. Holmes has proposed an urgent 90-day plan to be implemented
before the rainy season, to offer aid to the people hardest hit by the violence. Currently the UN appeal for Chad has only received 23 per cent of the US $174 million needed. ‘Signs of optimism in Chad? I did not see signs of optimism in Chad. I think the problems there remain very serious and are getting worse,’ said Holmes. Darfur and Chad reports extracted from IRIN: www.irinnews.org More links at www.thefriend.org
the Friend , 27 April 2007 Patterdale earth
Jill Segger reflects on what might have been
Patterdale is a picture-postcard village. Lying at the southern tip of Ullswater, it nestles below fells so steep and close they seem to rise from the rooftops. My grandfather described his birthplace as resembling ‘a l’aal bun in a basin.’ Perhaps that image sustained him as he struggled for physical and mental survival on the killing fields of northern France ninety years ago. In 1914, Granddad was a young shepherd minding flocks in the shadow of Hellvelyn. On hearing that his country needed him, he cycled to Carlisle to enlist. By the eve of the Somme he was a sergeant – the natural rank of an intelligent working-class man in those times. So many junior officers fell in the days which followed that the young NCO with a Cumbrian accent and an elementary-school education received the King’s Commission. He left the army with the rank of major, decorated for bravery under fire and held in high regard by the men from whose ranks he had risen. I do not know what took the returning soldier to the Cumbrian coalfield in 1919 – perhaps his former employer was wary of a shepherd boy who had returned as
an officer and honorary gentleman. Making his home in Workington, Granddad married and tried to make the best of the peace for which he had undergone so much suffering. Loving solidarity saw the family through the Depression years and the death of a child. By the 1940s he was a local councillor and through long hours spent at night school had qualified as an accountant. He was proud to work in that capacity for the newly created National Coal Board from 1948 until his retirement. I remember Granddad as a quiet and gentle man. There was nothing military in his bearing. Small, slightly untidy and full of mischief, he was a delightful companion for a young child. I have some photographs – the teenage soldier, self-consciously showing his sergeant’s stripes to the camera; the middle-aged man in whose features I catch a glimpse of my own; the old man asleep in a deckchair with a piece of unfinished carving in his lap. It was from him that I learned a love of wood and of its potential for taking beautiful shapes. He never spoke of the Great War but occasionally he would be overcome by shaking and weeping.
When he was in the grip of these private horrors, our love could not reach him. He would retreat to a darkened room for several days and then return to us, pallid but smiling in reassurance. ‘It was the trenches,’ Grandma explained and my child’s mind could only wonder at the effect that mysterious experience still had upon him almost fifty years later. Recently, we visited Patterdale and in St Patrick’s churchyard, found the grave of a soldier from Granddad’s regiment. The two youths must have been at school together. Maybe they joined up on the same day. Perhaps – for such are the cruel contingencies of war – they were standing shoulder by shoulder when a bullet missed my grandfather and ended that boy’s life. I have never felt so acutely the pity and wretched waste of war as on that spring day in a Lakeland churchyard. One village lad came home to become a loving father, grandfather and servant of his community. The other did not. Thus generations are unborn and all that might have been lies in six feet of Patterdale earth. May we ever live in the virtue of that power which takes away the occasion of all wars.
the Friend , 27 April 2007