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Forced to flee

118 pages
I only met those who managed to get through. Those who witnessed the attacks on their villages, the burning down of their homes. Those who buried their dead. Those who were caputured, imprisoned or tortured. Those who crossed the Sahara. Those who worked illegally in Libya to pay for the crossing of the Mediterranean. Those who do not speak the language of the country whre they arrive. Who are these men and sometimes women who ask for asylum in France ?
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Translated from the french by Philip O’Prey
Thisstudyispublished byPMCT(l’AssociationPOURMIEUXCONNAÎTRE LETCHAD) TogetherwithARESAE(Associationpourledéveloppementdela RechercheScientifiqueenAfriquedel’Est).
Lorry carrying goods and passengers between east Chad, Darfur and Libya (JérômeTubiana).
Backcover:Cereal granary ripped open during the destruction of Um Buru in 2004 (JérômeTubiana).
©L’Harmattan,2017 5-7,ruedel’École-Polytechnique,75005Paris
http://www.harmattan.fr diffusion.harmattan@wanadoo.fr
ISBN:978-2-343-12413-1 EAN:9782343124131 GRAPHICDESIGN&LAYOUT–AnneLEBOSSÉ
PMCT -aresæ
I have traveled extensively up and down the tracks of Darfur, from Zalingei to El-Fasher, or from El-Fash er to KutumandthentoTinépassingbyAnka,Dor,UmBuru, Kornoy, heading out to Mellit in the east, to Musba t and ForawiyainthenorthandtoDarFurnunginthewest. Inthecourseofseverallongfieldtripsin1965,1969and 1970 Joseph Tubiana and myself were able to carry o ut linguistic, historical and ethnological surveys in a country thenatpeace. Theconditionsoflifewereharsh,thedroughtwas having devastatingeffects,nonethelesspeacereigned.Clashesbetween the different groups occasionally occurred, the mos t spectacular being the one which took place in 1968 when a fight between Zaghawa and Jelul Arabs, around the p ool at Jinik, led to the death of twenty-two people, eleve n on each side.The fighters were armed with guns; previously  only knives had been used in fighting. A few months late r a meeting of the chiefs of thedar, sultan,shartay, andmelik, restoredpeacebyfixingthediyaorcompensationforthedead. The investigations carried out during these various missionsamongtheZaghawaandtheTunjuraresetoutin detailinthedailylogIkept;theyprovideapictureofwhat 1 Darfurwaslikebeforethewar.
1. Marie-José Tubiana.Carnets de route au Dar For (Soudan) 1965-1970,urMaSé,a,piaS-tni 2006.
Since 1980, we have not returned to Darfur: the region has served as a sanctuary for Chadian opponents and  their Libyan supporters, and on account of the uninterrup ted drought for several years in succession people were impelled togosouthtofindabetterlife,bothforthemselvesandtheir flocksandherds.Thesituationwasthereforenotbestsuited for our staying in the villages and pursuing our investigations.Wekeptexchangingletterswithsomeofour contactsinthe‘Africanstyle’,thatistosaywithlongbreaks in between letters. The press, particularly the Eng lish-speakingpress,keptusinformed.
It was then that we observed some worrying signs, t he harbingersofmoreseriousconflictstocome. In1986,theal-Tajamual-arabiorganizationorthe Arab assembly called for the Arabs of Darfur to uni te in ordertocontrolthelocaladministration. Between1987and1989,conflictsbrokeoutbetween the For and almost all the Arab groups in Darfur: t he Janjawidages.arbAurbdntlimiastiroFllivnwo004 Between1992and1993wemaynoteaseriesofcamel thefts involving both Awlad Zeid Arabs and Zaghawa;  the government’sone-sidedstanceinthisconflictresultedinthe settingupofthefirstZaghawarebelgroupsin2002. In1995begantheattacksoftheArabsofwestDarfur on the Masalit farmers; in 1998 there were over 5,0 00 Masalitdeadandsome100,000ofthemfledtoChad. –August 2001 saw the founding of the Darfur Libera tion Movement, which attacked the Sudanese forces and fr om February2003calleditselftheSudanLiberationAr my(SLA). InApril2003,therewastheSLAsvictoriousraidonEl-Fasher,thecapitalofNorthDarfur,andthebirthofasecond
rebel movement, JEM (Justice and Equality Movement) founded by non-Arabs close to Hassan ElTourabi.Th e governmentembarkedonamassivecrackdown. Itwasthisrepressionthatwasresponsiblefortheexilein EuropeoftheyoungestDarfuris,astheywerebetterableto survive the harsh conditions of the journey. So from 2005, I sawanumberofyoungmenfromDarfur,ofvariousethnic origins, arrive at my Paris apartment to ask for he lp. They hadheardofusintheirfamilies.Theyknewwehadstayedin their country and were not strangers for them. They were countingonus. I cannot remember how the first one showed up; after that it became a matter of word of mouth. I would receive them,listentothemwiththehelpofaninterpreter,asthey quietly told me their story. My questions elicited fresh clarifications, as I encouraged them to make a plan of their village, to describe the routes they used to take to go to the various markets or to the hospital.These points would give greater credibility to their identity when encounte ring: OFPRA (Office français de protection des réfugiés e t des apatrides (French Office for the Protection of Refugees and StatelessPersons))andtheCNDA(Cournationaledudroit d’asile (National Court of Asylum Rights)). I would  direct them to a lawyer who could defend them, or even to a medicalcenter,whichwouldprovidethemwithacertificate attesting the abuse they had suffered during their detention as well as the marks of torture. Based on what I now knew aboutthem,Icouldprovidethemwithawrittenattestation confirming their ethnicity, the location of their v illage and thetruthfulnessoftheirstorywhentheydescribedtheattack on their village, their imprisonment, their escape and their longjourneytoreachEuropepittedwithobstacles.
Itisthesenarratives,oratanyrateanumberofthem,that Iwouldliketopresenttoanyonewhomaybesurprisedby the presence of refugees in our country and thereby enable them to appreciate what these men and women have so bravelybeenthrough.IhopeImayhavethusshownthema differentwayoflookingatandtreatingthesepeople. I am above all indebted to all those who have entrusted me with their story, and who trusted me sufficientl y to confide their grief over the death of their loved o nes and theirownfeelingsofanxietyaboutwhatthefuturemayhold in store, always with great restraint, and sometime s with barelycontainedemotion.Itisimpossibletolistthemall.To protect their privacy their names are not given in the testimonies cited, but they are all present in the drafting of this modest book whose purpose is to help the reade r becomemoreconsciousofthesituation. Forbeingatmyconstantdisposalandfortheirfriendship I wish to thank the collaborators who interpreted i n the different languages spoken in Darfur, first and for emost Imam Zaki Obey, a collaborator from the earliest days, Dr Abdel-Aziz Abdallah Kodok, Aboubakar Adam and many other occasional contributors. Without them, none o f the conversationscouldeverhavetakenplace. Iwouldliketothankallthosewhowerekindenoughto readthistextandofferremarksandsuggestions,inparticular Michèle Gendreau-Massaloux, Annette Carayon, Clotil de Warin,MarcFontrierand,regardinganumberofpoints,my son Jérôme, who experienced on the ground the turmo il whichdevelopedfrom2003andpersiststothisday,despite the announcement of peace agreements that continue to be withouteffect.
I received no protection from my state where I was pursued by the army and the rebels. I cannot return to my village which was completely destroyed, where my cattle were stolen. I do not want to go back to my country where my father and mother were killed before my very eyes. I can no longer live in a country where the army wounds and tortures me instead of coming to my help. I cannot and do not want to live in a country where even refugee camps are unsafe and are at the mercy of the army, the militias the police and anyone else just because they have a rifle and the power of life and especially death over others.