“Our very existence in the camp is clear evidence of injustice and the absence of accountability,” Abdul* asserts. While he’s forced to live in Kalma displacement camp – an overcrowded camp in Darfur – those who burned his village and killed his family and friends continue to commit the same crimes with impunity.
In just one day, I lost 21 men and 2 women from my immediate family. But a story never stands alone. My story is just one of many in a camp of more than 200,000 displaced people and those numbers are growing every day.
I’ve now been living in Kalma since late 2003 after my village was attacked by the Janjaweed in the early morning hours. They set the entire village on fire and looted thousands of our livestock and valuable belongings. To this day, those who committed these horrific crimes were never held accountable.
We fled to the camp after the attack, thinking we would be there only a short while, but it has now been ten years. We’re not safe in the camp either, though. On August 25th, 2008, the government army and security forces came and attacked the camp, killing 26 people and wounding 118 more, three of whom were my family members. Though the attack was witnessed by multiple UN agencies (including UNAMID, who are supposed to protect us) and international organizations, not a single person who committed this violent attack has been brought to justice. My people and I live in fear every single day.
Life in the camp is extremely difficult for children. I would estimate that almost half of them have no access to education because of lack of schools and school fees. As a parent, it brings me profound sadness to see so many children becoming beggars or street children. I work very hard so that my children can have access to education, but most of the time, we have give up meals in order to save up money to send our kids to school. I think education is the key to preventing cycles of war in my country, so that’s why I do whatever I have to in order to insure that my children get an education.
My people have paid a high price for this conflict. We want to return home to our normal lives. We are farmers and we want to return home to our land to being providing for ourselves again. It is humiliating to have to rely on others for everything. Yet, we can’t return home until those who committed the crimes against us have faced justice and are no longer able to commit these atrocities. There cannot be peace without justice.
The Sudan Peace, Security, and Accountability Act of 2013 points the way forward to address the humanitarian crisis in Sudan and hold those responsible for human rights violations accountable. The bill sets forth a framework for the United States to help end the impunity that has been plaguing Sudan for too long.