Fire Destroys Homes in Camp Goz Amer
By Gabriel Stauring
Most of them have already experienced this trauma at least once before. As Mariam told us yesterday, anyone over thirteen years old is likely to have seen their villages completely destroyed, burned to the ground in the flash of violence that made them refugees.
At camp Goz Amer, fires are a common event. The homes, made mostly of grass and sticks, are highly overcrowded, and wind gusts and children playing are easy involuntary arsonists. It is not a question of whether there will be a fire or not. Fires are a certainty. The questions are: when and where they will start, how big will they be, and will there be any casualties?
The refugee population has grown considerably since the camp was first established, but the area in which the refugees live remains close to the same. This creates a situation of overcrowded homes. When a fire starts, it will jump from home to home to home, before the refugees can respond to put it out.
The fire today burned more than 20 homes. Women tried hopelessly to save food from burning, but the whole area was still like a furnace, and most just gave up and broke down in tears.
Believe it or not, this fire was not one of the bad ones. Families rushed from all over the camp to throw water and sand on the flames, and “only” two refugee were injured and taken to the clinic.
They tell us that after fires like this one, the affected refugees receive no assistance from humanitarian agencies. They are expected to deal with it on their own, since they are on their way to self-reliance. Neighbors, very poor themselves, must help the victims that now have nothing, pushing everyone closer—and maybe over—the edge.
Seeing the Little Ripples
We arrived to Little Ripples at 6:30 this morning. Being there at this hour has been great insight into the school morning routine. We get to see caregivers dropping off their children, others strolling in on their own, seeming way beyond their years. It’s been an opportunity for us to see all the students experiencing Little Ripples. My feelings are mixed. I am so happy knowing that all these children are learning and playing in a safe, nurturing space. However I can’t help but notice the prevalence of orange hair, sunken cheeks, and swollen bellies. It is so so hard to comprehend. It’s incredibly sad and maddening. Now more than ever, Little Ripples needs to support the nutrition of it’s student. How is this acceptable!? How is it acceptable that so many children be allowed to begin their life with irreparable damage to their bodies and brain? The international community keeps pushing the refugees to be self-reliant. How is allowing their children to continue to be malnourished going to lead self-reliant and thriving communities in the future?
What a treat!! As we were leaving a restaurant at lunch located on the main market street, we run into Yaya! Yaya is one of the star Darfur United players. Our passionate forward to be exact. I was caught off guard and in an instant I was overcome with so much joy. I think I might have grabbed on to him a little too tight in my excitement.
We will spend more time with Yaya tomorrow and hopefully get to speak with him more about how things are going for him here in camp Goz Amer. Though he looked more thin than usual, and based on other stories and the food situation for most in the camp, I imagine he has also been hit hard by the food cuts.
Fasting in Solidarity
Starting today, I will be spending the following 10 days fasting on approximately 800 to 1,000 calories per day — at the same time that my i-ACT Team and I will be visiting Darfuri refugee camps in eastern Chad.
I do this as we launch the RESTORE 2100 campaign.
Whether you are fasting or not, please visit the campaign page, learn more, sign the petition, and give any amount you can towards improving children’s nutrition and health through our Little Ripples program.
Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad are experiencing severe cuts in food rations. Of the World Food Program minimum standard of 2,100 calories per person, per day, they now only receive approximately 800 calories. In the extreme conditions that exist in this region, it is not possible for the refugees to make up the difference to provide for the minimum nutritional needs of their families. Young children are impacted the most. The resulting malnutrition has negative developmental effects, most of which are irreversible.
Thank you for you support and solidarity,
TAKE ACTION: RESTORE 2100
The petition to President Obama and UN Ambassador Samantha Power.
More information about food insecurity can be found on our virtual Refugee Rations report.
To support our Little Ripples’ efforts to improve children’s nutrition and health.