Bahai beach

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bahai Beach 22

Bahai Beach 22

Rough awakening.

November 12, 2006

Saturday for the first time in seemingly eons I went for a walk to the market. Chat with the local kids, look for vegetables in the market or some fruits. A met our cook Francois there as he was shopping and we strolled back together. Chatting about Sunday and the meal we could prepare. All nice meats passed our minds and we settled on camel. We arrived back at around 16.00. There was an expatriate meeting planned so he went to the kitchen do his wizardry and I joined the others. At around five we hurt a burst of Kalashnikov being fired. We looked at each other and reasoned it sounded like a drunk soldier showing off. How wrong can one be. Ten minutes later neuf-sheesha, our driver on call arrived saying that a terrible accident had happened. Our driver Gony was shot and bleeding profusely in the hospital. Dr Pounce , Marc and I jumped in the car to see what we could do.
The incident had taken place not far from the hospital. And it seemed about two hundred people were gathered in and around the hospital. Gony was in the operation theatre being taken care of by 4 nurses. A rapid assessment learnt he had been hit in the leg twice and one bullet perforated his thorax. Instant surgical exploration of the wounds gave us the feeling that he was not in a very good shape and would need proper surgery in NDjamena. For the night we could give him a blood transfusion, pain treatment and cleaning (surgical ) of the wound as well as bandaging the wounds.
Direct contact with UNHCR led Gony to be evacuated to a hospital in N’Djamena where he is still being operated on. All of us pray that he will come through.
Sometimes you are lulled in a false sense of security. Today was such a day. The authorities are not in control anymore. Promises about new armed forces arriving have been pending, Pending and pending.
Oure Cassoni will be off limit for some days and perhaps we shall be locked down into our compound. The gliding scale we are on for a while now has reached a new low. The camp as such will suffer as well. That we have to move is clear. Now to find a proper other place.
The meal was a bit subdued but Tandoori Beef, dal , macaroni, liver, watermelon and oranges do go down well.
It is Monday morning and we shall stay inside our compound and office for at least three days or until the local authorities wake up and reinforce local security conditions.
It is sad there has to be serious injury to an aid worker before nothing changes once again . No walls or guards can protect us from violence of this type. The local community needs to be on our side and clearly they are not. Let me predict some things; intense meetings between UNHCR , national government and local government to send extra police officers, secure the border, catch the perpetrators of horrific crimes. Nice declaration signed and then due to lack of shoes or cars or guns (amazingly yes guns) the allotted police officers will remain in Head Quarters, the perpetrators will disappear as .
Oure Cassoni camp is very dear to me, steal cars all you want. Just do not have the cowardice to shoot a fellow staff member. I hope this is the un-crossable line that has been crossed so we can move forward to find another site and leave this town resembling a lawless den of many evil wishers as soon as possible. So far goes the goodwill of the local community. Perhaps I can not put my head around understanding nomadic norms and values but violence disgusts me. It is so casual and so accepted how will these people ever progress to more peaceful societies but for fighting till the last man standing. The longer you live here the more complex you realize this conflict is. It is definitely not something that just spun out of control in 2004. A multi factorial explanation must be sought, competing for scarce resources, break down of local reconciliation mechanisms, armed patriarchical society, foreign meddling (Usa, Erythrea, Ethiopia, Chad), divide et impare (Sudan), deforestation, desertification, free availability of arms, natural resources (oil). The region of Darfur and the other side BET in Chad are regions were there has never been strong central authority and the arms was always the chosen way to solve issues. But after clashes there was a reconciliation mechanism which seems to have broken down. One example I have written about is the dia. When a child or adult dies by accident or in combat 50 camels are to be paid for a woman and 100 for a man. It involves elaborate negotiations and once agreement is reached a ceremony is held to make peace between the different families. A meal is shared and there is peace again. For now I am sure too much blood has been shed and a solution is not lying around the corner.

Talking about which, when I peep around the corner I find a stack of work waiting for some attention. From the camp at the moment no real issues.

Take care,



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