Last week we weren’t allowed access to the Dadaab refugee camp. It sounds like the camp, now that the rains have come, has turned into a cesspool. There was mention of cholera in a recent UNHCR report along with flooding latrines. Not ideal camping. Security by UNHCR and Kenyan police has made the camp inaccessible to additional medical relief and the Press. No AP. No Reuters. There are daily conflagrations between Al-Shabaab suspects and refugees and relief/security personnel. I believe there is more going on there than the UNHCR is letting on. But I can’t let this be my obsession right now.
Yesterday Dr. Alan Kelley decided to charter a flight into Sudan about 10 miles south of where recent bombing took place–if you read the news. It’s truly inhumane. I’m sure we’ll be serving traumatized tribes and seeing some wounds. A Reuters article two days ago stated bombs fell at the Yida refugee camp, located 10 miles (15 kilometers) south of the border, one day after bombings were reported in another region of South Sudan. The recent bombings are seen as an effort by the Khartoum gov’t. to move populations south of the Blue Nile region to give the north access to oil reserves.
In July new borders were drawn after South Sudan was given independence, though the Blue Nile and Upper Nile regions are proving to be the first of heavily contested zones rich in oil and resources. The Blue Nile villages we were in five years ago along the Ethiopia border (Kurmuk) have in recent months been overrun by the north as the new border puts them in the north. These Blue Nile tribes fought for secession. They now are being “hung out to dry” with the south unable to provide for their protection.
Kelley expects to be setting up a feeding station and providing medical care to serve these populations about 25 miles south of recently bombed zones. Keep in mind these populations are highly migratory and may walk for days after bombing incidents. Also remember this kind of conflict is not new to this region. Unfortunately, such bombing has become familiar terrain.
We will be meeting a small team of Kelly’s friends coming out of this area Monday who will be able to give us first hand accounts of bombing–and casualties they witnessed– as they were a kilometer away from the hot zone. Kelley knows them very well. He had provided them with a sat phone and night vision a month ago.
I look forward to the work ahead. I believe Alan will be able to provide a modicum of relief for a now splintered
population that is on the verge of another crisis. There will be more refugees in the weeks to come as I wager Khartoum is far from completing its objectives.
As always, we will remain safe and away from any falling objects–me hopes.
We fly North from Nairobi Monday to Lokichogio and then into Malakal, Sudan, where we’ll get our Visas, and onto a little dirt landing strip in Doro to the east. We plan to come out Saturday. Yesterday I connected with Relief International who has offered to put us up in their guest house in Doro. The village is called Bunj on Google Earth. Hopefully rains haven’t ruined the dirt airstrip. We have good tents and MREs.
Gotta run. I’m being buzzed by a mosquito.