The chaos of Kalma camp
|The Daily Telegraph, 06 Février 2006|
A terrified young boy joins the countless thousands of victims of the civil war that is destroying Sudan. David Blair reports from the chaos of Kalma camp
When mounted Arab raiders struck Nasir Ali Hassan\'s village, firing from the saddle and setting huts ablaze, the seven-year-old boy fled with his mother across the arid plains of Darfur.
He was struck dumb with terror and has not spoken a word since the Janjaweed militia destroyed his home village in the far west of Sudan. Gunfire may also have deafened him.
\"He was a very special boy, a very talkative boy,\" said his mother, Keltoum Ahmed Hassan, 40. \"He was going to school and he was intelligent. He is my only son. I don\'t know if he will ever recover.\"
Nasir is among millions of victims of a war that is escalating and becoming more chaotic, with militias fighting among themselves and the governments of Sudan and Chad being sucked into cross-border attacks.
Nasir\'s family fled the Janjaweed for Kalma refugee camp, the largest in Darfur, where 96,000 people live in shacks fashioned from brushwood and plastic sheets.
This sprawling camp emerged in 2003 as a temporary measure. Today, there is no prospect of its people going home.
The United Nations has been forced to evacuate all non-essential staff from Western Darfur province and those who remain work in sandbagged, fortified offices. The roads are usually too dangerous for them to reach any camps.
At the outset three years ago the war pitted the Arab-dominated regime against mainly black African rebels styling themselves the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA).
The authorities sought to crush the rising by arming Janjaweed militiamen recruited from Darfur\'s Arab tribes.
Far from reasserting control, western diplomats say this has succeeded only in sowing anarchy and absolute chaos.
The Janjaweed have taken to banditry, fighting each other over the spoils. The SLA has not been destroyed. Instead, the rebels have split along ethnic lines, with rival factions from the Fur and Zaghawa tribes killing one another.
A new rebel group styling itself the National Movement for Reform and Development has emerged, led by a warlord who gets his guns from neighbouring Chad. He claimed to have killed 78 soldiers last Saturday.
Other insurgents from the so-called \"Justice and Equality Movement\" are led by hardline Islamists.
Meanwhile, Sudan and Chad are waging an undeclared war, with each country airlifting troops to their common frontier in Darfur. Last week, Sudan claimed to have killed two Chadian soldiers in a border skirmish.
To complete this anarchic picture, clashes have broken out between Darfur\'s nomadic Arab tribes. They are fighting over scarce water and pasture because the war restricts the area over which they can roam with their flocks.
All this means that still more people are fleeing their villages. A town of 55,000 was cleared of every inhabitant in two Janjaweed raids on Jan 24.
Yet as long ago as July 30, 2004, the UN Security Council passed resolution 1556 giving Sudan 30 days to disarm the Janjaweed. Since then, nine more resolutions have been passed on Darfur.
When the 30-day deadline was set, Darfur had 1.4 million refugees and the number of dead stood at about 70,000.
Today, another 600,000 refugees fill the camps - 1.8 million inhabit those in Darfur and another 200,000 have fled into Chad. Estimates for the total killed have reached 300,000 - five per cent of Darfur\'s population.
Peace talks in Abuja have so far made little progress. At a session at the weekend, Jan Pronk, the UN envoy in Sudan, said: \"Don\'t make alliances with rebel movements in neighbouring countries, and abstain from receiving arms and troops from neighbouring countries.\"
The only outside force in Darfur is deployed by the African Union. It has 5,000 soldiers and 2,000 civilian police and observers covering an area twice the size of Britain.
Its mandate expires next month. Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, has called for a \"major new international effort\" and the deployment of a fully-fledged, UN peacekeeping force.
On Friday the Security Council gave the UN authority to begin \"contingency planning\" to take over the mission.
The UN estimates that up to 20,000 peacekeepers will have to be deployed if Darfur is to have any chance of peace. Yet no one knows who will provide the soldiers, nor whether Sudan\'s regime will accept them.
All that Mrs Hassan wants is to return home with her seven children. \"I want to grow food on our land and feed ourselves just as we did before the war,\" she said.