This image of children peeking into my camera lens was shot in a village-like setting in Karrare Camp for Internally Displaced People (IDP) on the outskirts of El Nyala, a small town in southern Darfur.
It was my third trip to Sudan, in November 2004. On a completely different assignment there little more than two years previously, it had looked totally different. At that time Darfur was not on the world’s emergency list, so few people had heard of it. I was taken to a village near El Nyala and left on my own with a Sudanese family to document a day in the life of Mahasin, a nomadic girl. There was no army, no government officers checking credentials, not even any NGO workers. By the time I came back at the end of 2004, everything felt different and charged up, with dozens of flights landing daily, some with emergency food supplies, some with NGO workers and some with government officials, VIPs and international celebrities. Markets were bustling and prices for goods had shot up. Several new restaurants had opened up, some just to entertain NGO workers. In short, it felt as though the IDP crisis had brought booming business to this little town and pumped new life into it.
The games Sudanese politicians play are complex and extremely hard to understand, but as long as they continue to benefit everyone involved – Sudanese and other governments; armies, militias and thugs – the situation of internally displaced people in Darfur will continue to worsen.