Flying over the vast expanse of Chadian desert to get to the refugee camps housing tens of thousands of refugees from Darfur, you get a very clear picture of what normal villages look like on both sides of the border. Small clusters of perhaps 10 to 20 thatched huts are ringed by fences made out of branches of the thorn tree. Sometimes a few kilometres away there will be another cluster of huts, but sometimes a village is isolated.
I had no trouble imaging an attack by Sudanese forces and their Janjaweed militias. This was my second trip to the camps and the day before, a group of despairing women I met with in the Gaga Camp - the only one of twelve camps in Chad that is still accepting refugees from Darfur - had talked about the attacks they had lived through. They all described the chaos and terror in their villages as men attacked on camel and horseback, accompanied by Sudanese government troops in vehicles, in the early hours of the morning, while most were still sleeping.
Sweeping through a village, the men would shoot at anything that moved. Livestock was stolen or killed; the same with crops - stolen or destroyed. The village then would be burned to the ground. Hundreds and hundreds of villages throughout Darfur have suffered that fate in the Khartoum-orchestrated counterinsurgency war that has primarily targeted defenceless civilians.
Another tactic used throughout this war that erupted in 2003, when rebels began attacking Sudanese military targets in Darfur, is rape - rape as a weapon of war. In Bredging refugee camp, I was able to meet a group of 30 women for an hour - and within that hour, five women described their own rapes, always gang rape. Rape to destroy not only the women, but their families and communities. One of the women was 35, the mother of eight children. When her husband learned that she had been raped repeatedly by Janjaweed fighters, he divorced her on the spot and she has been alone since. Another of the women - age 17 - was rejected by her fiance after her rape.
READ IT ALL. IT'S VERY IMPORTANT
African Union soldiers on patrol in the town of Muhujariya in south Darfur. Photograph: Khaled el Fiqi/EPA
Mr Blair has been pushing for much tougher international action against Sudan since President Omar Hassan al-Bashir reneged earlier this month on last November's agreement to allow UN peacekeepers into Darfur to protect civilians.
Talks are under way in the UN security council over a package of sanctions being pushed by Britain and the US, which includes a comprehensive arms embargo and the freezing assets of Sudanese leaders implicated in the Darfur ethnic cleansing.
Speaking in Berlin on Sunday, Mr Blair described the situation in Darfur as "intolerable" and said: "We need to consider a no-fly zone to prevent the use of Sudanese air power against refugees and displaced people."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered harsh criticism of Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for not allowing United Nations peacekeepers into the country. Her remarks came amid the pomp of the European Union's 50th anniversary celebrations in Berlin.
"We think of the people in Zimbabwe and Darfur. The suffering there is unbearable," Merkel said. "We must look at stronger sanctions."
The Sudanese government in Khartoum has blocked plans to deploy UN peacekeepers to replace African Union troops struggling to contain the violence in the western region. The EU imposed an arms embargo on Khartoum in January 2004. But this weekend EU leaders and human rights activists said more needs to be done to end one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters.
[...] Blair was accompanied by Ishag Mekki, a representative of a London-based group, Darfur Union. Mekki's elder sister, a mother of eight, was killed in her home in Darfur. Mekki issued an emotional plea to world leaders to help stop. The EU should not celebrate its achievements of the past century while people in Darfur are being killed, Mekki said.
"Every time genocide happens the leaders of the EU say 'never again,'" Mekki said. "These are empty words because it is happening now."
Well, let's wait and see.
El periódico inglés The Independent ha publicado un relato sobre cómo se vive en un campo de refugiados a los que están huyendo personas de Chad tras los ataques de los Janjaweed. Dice que lo normal es que entren en un poblado y disparen a todo lo que se mueve. También violan a las mujeres siempre en grupo para dañar tanto a ellas como a las familias. Normalmente, después de la violación son abandonadas.
Blair quiere que se apruebe una resolución en la que se establezca una zona en la que esté prohibido volar para que no puedan ser bombardeados desde el aire.
Merkel también ha insitido en que la situación es insostenible.
Mientras, el genocidio continúa. Mekki, cuya hermana, madre de 8 hijos, fue asesinada en Darfur, dice que "cada vez que un genocidio sucede, los líderes de la UE dicen "nunca jamás". Estas son palabras vacías porque se está produciendo ahora". Y los años que lleva ...
Por cierto, Italian Blogs for Darfur nos ha ofrecido la posibilidad de hacer un "Blogroll de Blogs Españoles por Darfur". Sólo tendríais que postear algo sobre Darfur cada semana. Y de esa manera más personas conocerían más cosas sobre lo que pasa allí. Que ya sé que lo que está pasando aquí es suficientemente grave como para estar muy preocupados, pero no creo que debamos olvidar lo que pasa en otros países.
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