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i-ACT20 Day 2: A Life is a Life

From Paris to Nigeria, Which Violence is More Appealing?

By Gabriel Stauring


It’s all about perspective. We chose to make maps one way and not the other.

I get it. I do. Western media is going to cover events that are (or appear to be) more connected to western life. It is also going to cover what sells more commercials, gets more clicks, or in someway is more appealing to its audience.

I also hate to compare tragedies or suffering. For each person affected, suffering cannot be quantified and is so personal. But, being here in Chad this week and brushing on the periphery of some horrible events in different parts of the world, it is difficult for me to notice the ways we respond to each of them.

On our way here, we made a stop in Paris and spent some hours at the airport. At the same time, not too far from there, the largest demonstration in France’s history was declaring, “Je suis Charlie.” Over 1 million, including leaders from around the world, attended, and coverage by the world’s media was also massive. This was an appropriate response against violence.

When we made it to Chad, we heard of thousands of displaced Nigerians crossing the border, not too far from where we are. There had been a horrible massacre that killed approximately 2,000 people, many of them children. In addition to this massacre, there were two suicide bombings in crowded markets, also in Nigeria, and just yesterday, there was an attack in Cameroon, also close to the border with Chad.

I do not know the statistics, but I suspect that the media coverage of these recent events on the other side of the Chadian border was minimal, compared to the attention of the attacks in France.

We are now getting ready to go to Darfuri refugee camps on the eastern border. The Darfuri crisis is now twelve years old, and the world’s attention moved on a long time ago—even as violence continues to be at alarming levels in that region.

How do we get the appropriate response and attention to violence anywhere in the world?

A life is a life, is a life.



Hard to Hear It. I Cannot Imagine Living It

By Sara-Christine Dallain


Today seemed like a refresher in Chad logistics. A flashback to the last time we were here in May, when my little Nokia phone didn’t leave my pocket for fear of missing an important call or having to make an emergency one regarding permits, travel, documents, etc.

Phone calls aside, we did have some productive meetings. However, during these meetings we heard some unsettling information. Refugees only receive about 8% of the amount of wood they need daily to prepare their meals. So, they go out searching for wood. This naturally creates tensions with the local population and a stress on resources. It also puts young women in danger who must go in search of wood.

We were also told that the cuts in food rations have had negative impacts on all aspects of refugee life. Health. Livelihood. Education. Possible increase in prostitution. Information we are not surprised to hear and that we’ve been aware of from our own time and conversations with refugees. But still, its always hard to hear it. And I cannot imagine living through it.

Then there’s the news of Boko Haram. Chad is now hosting some 20,000 new refugees fleeing from their violence. While I watched on TV the world gathering in solidarity for Charlie Hebdo, explosives carried by two young girls tore through a mobile phone market in a northeastern town of Nigeria. And yesterday, I received emails late into the night reporting an attack by Boko Haram on a military camp in Cameroon just 80 miles from N’Djamena, where I lay in bed.

This region… and what is happening to so many innocent people is overwhelming, devastating, and sad, to say the least. But again, while it is so hard to hear it, I cannot imagine living it. So tonight, I’m thinking of the thousands and thousands of men, women, and children who have been exposed to unthinkable killing, massacre, and violence and who have no other option but to seek refuge in Chad, not far from where I sleep tonight.


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