I thought I should preface this entry by letting everyone know that I’m ok. Everything is quiet now.
We expected protests today against the deployment of UN troops in Darfur so we were under lockdown again. I have to admit that I’m becoming quite fond of the lockdown because it means that we can sleep in. I woke at about 8:30 to the sounds of trucks and people in the street chanting, ‘down, down USA.’ Ashley came in rather sleepily and said, ‘they’re calling for you. They’ve just announced that 2000 troops are moving into Nyala today.’ I rolled over and pulled the sheet over my head, ‘I assume that they’ll still be moving troops in at 10:00,’ I said. ‘I’m going back to sleep until then.’
But, of course, I couldn’t go back to sleep. It’s rather hard to sleep with the roar of mobs in the distance and the radio squawking with security information. So, I got up and then things began to go wrong.
Another NGO hit their emergency button which means that you can hear everything happening in their location. People running, yelling in Arabic – it was a good friend of ours and their compound was being attacked. Police were deployed. Our national staff called us to say that something was wrong at our office and to stay inside.
So we just sat outside in the sun and waited. Waiting is a horrible thing to do when things are going wrong. You want information. You want to know if people are ok. You want to know if trouble is headed your way or if you’re safe. People deal with insecurity in different ways. Some people become agitated, some shut-down; Ashley and I decided to have some coffee and paint our toe-nails. ‘If I’m going to be evacuated I’m at least going to have beautiful toes,’ I said. ‘That’s a nice shade of red,’ Ashley said. ‘It suits you.’ ‘Thanks,’ I said as the radio continued to beep it’s emergency signal. A black cat ran across the compound. ‘Bad luck,’ I said. ‘In my country black cats mean good luck,’ she said. ‘Let’s go with that,’ I decided.
Some of our national staff came to the house. The office had been broken into, the windshield of a vehicle smashed, the guard beaten up, our generator pulled-apart. Three of our national staff who were there escaped. Vehicles of other NGOs had been smashed and other compounds in that area overrun. ‘It is ok now,’ they said and smiled. ‘Tamam [good], we said. ‘Humdillalah [praise be to God]’, we said.
So, now we are waiting again. The protestors have gathered to listen and make speeches in the main square. The police are reporting that they expect more violence when they disperse. The UN is trying to get the AU to come into town to help but it’s unclear whether the can/will. I’m trying to think of something to do. I’ve brought the finance files home and should be sorting them but lack the will. I could paint or read but feel lack of enthusiasm for that as well. Maybe I’ll bake a cake. Cake makes everything better.