Am Nabak is a fine place for camels. It is rocky and dry, and getting drier. The water table can't support the current population of a few camels and around 17,000 refugees from the war in Darfur, so water is brought in overland by truck. The camp is situated scant 25 kilometers from the Darfur border. This is too close to the war zone by United Nations standards; it was only supposed to be a transit camp through which refugees passed on their way to more permanent and secure camps. But the refugees have settled in at Am Nabak and, despite the urging of the UN Refugee Agency, prefer to remain close to the border.
Nicholas Kristof's recent blog post took the United Nations to task for cancelling a security detail for him and his traveling partner, actor and activist George Clooney, on their recent trip to eastern Chad. Actually, Kristof said that his complaint with the UN is not the lack of security but rather the sudden reversal of position by high-level UN officials. Kristof claims UN leadership worried that Clooney might condemn the actions of Sudanese president Omar al Bashir as genocide, thereby worsening already tense relations between Khartoum and New York. A note: Mr. Clooney was travelling as a private citizen (albeit a very high profile private citizen), not in his role as a UN Goodwill Ambassador.
All around the world people want to know how American policy will change when Barack Obama becomes president. I expect greater U.S. engagement on two humanitarian crises—Darfur and Iraqi displacement.
Within the past three years, insecurity remains the primary obstacle to the return of Chadians who have been forced to flee their villages, located in the south-eastern areas of Chad bordering Sudan. Insecurity and violence are also increasingly hampering the provision of assistance to the people displaced as aid agencies come under recurrent attacks by armed men on the roads or in their compounds.