A slick visit to Darfur’s red carpet camps

4134134680_bc643132e6_mThere was a time when visits to Darfur were uncertain affairs, fraught with danger. These days – as long as you travel with the right people and stick strictly to the right route – they can be as comfortable as a coach trip.

The African Union delegation plane touched down in El Fasher, North Darfur’s capital, at 9.35 a.m. on Tuesday. We were on the bus heading back to the airstrip at 4.40 p.m.

In between, the members of the African Union’s peace and security council visited the governor’s walled-in compound, where ambassadors watched tribal dancing and a PowerPoint presentation (complete with CD-ROM handout).

The next stop was the heavily secured UNAMID peacekeeping headquarters. Next, a razor-wired police station, 200 metres outside a displacement camp, where around 40 residents had been waiting for two hours to talk to the delegates.

Forty-five minutes later, the 18-vehicle convoy of buses, 4×4s and armed escorts drove slowly through Abu Shouk camp. Then there was one final stop at the governor’s to eat dinner and admire his collection of gazelle and exotic birds. The AU ambassadors and women in the party received souvenir mats…

Read the rest on Reuters’ Africa blog

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