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i-ACT20 Day 7: Reality

My Silence Will Not Make a Difference

By Sara-Christine Dallain


We arrive at the main marketplace. There is a little more bustle here, though it still feels very quiet. Some women and girls are selling produce and grains. Our colleague Pat buys a few items. Oumda helps her to negotiate the price. This is fun to watch.

It is so nice to have the opportunity to leave the UNHCR compound on my own two feet today. That is, without the escort of a UN vehicle. To get a small glimpse of life in Iriba, to see the incredible blue sky blanket above us, the scenery in the distance and to feel the resistance of the wind and sand as I walked – perhaps a little preparation for the days to come of walking the camps.

During this time out and about, in casual conversations with colleagues working in the refugee camps of Iriba, I am told about the threat to children of being recruited as child soldiers, about the bombs being dropped on Darfuri villages not too far away, and the sexual and gender-based violence that is still so prevalent. I’m not sure if I wanted to mention these conversations on my blog today. First, it is very difficult for me to convey how it feels to hear these things, especially when I am so close to it all. It’s maddening and heartbreaking. Second, I cannot give too much information or insight yet, only the brief updates that I hear from people working in these camps day in and day out. But I decided to mention them because these acts of violence are a reality