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Rainy season complicates aid distribution

06-09-2004 Feature

ICRC delegate, Robin Bovey, sent this article from Darfur after taking part in an arduous distribution effort.

As the first ICRC convoy with food and shelter left Al Janeina for the area around Jebel Mun, everyone felt excited that the operation was finally under way. Although none of us was under any illusion that the trip would be anything other than difficult, none of us knew quite how arduous it would be.

The first distribution was planned for Um Draba, an Arab settlement whose population had been displaced by the fighting. A first delivery of tarpaulins to Um Draba went without a hitch and the whole community was very pleased to finally have shelter – especially as the rainy season is well under way. Conditions for these IDPs have been particularly hard over the past months. What was particularly heartening was that the Sheik for Um Draba had invited his counterparts from neighbouring African villages to meet with the ICRC and discuss their needs.

That night, the rain came down as heavily as it possibly could and the ICRC convoy spent the whole of the following day trying without success to cover the 14 kilometres to Um Draba. We ended the day tired and muddy, having relentlessly dug trucks and land- cruisers from the mud. There would be no way to get to Um Draba for a while, so with the help of the Sudanese Red Crescent Society, we organized a camel train to take in emergency food supplies and Um Draba would be a priority for the following week.

The next morning the team set off for Aluna and Armo up in Jebel Mun. By nightfall, we had crossed Wadi Arocha at the base of Jebel Mun and managed to get all but one of our trucks to the villages. However, the rain caught up with us again and we spent a miserable wet night with trucks on either side of the wadi. In the morning, we got all but one truck back across the wadi and then carried the rest of the food across to load the trucks for the final distribution up in Jebel Mun. 

That night, the Commissioner for Kulbus Province paid the team a visit and thanked us for our efforts to get food through to Jebel Mun. Over the next two days we assessed many more villages in the area – all of them badly needed food to see them through until the January harvest. The team also managed to make distributions to two more villages in the area.

As we headed back south to Geneina we were all very tired, but everyone was in incredibly high spirits with the completion of the task.

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