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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 July, 2004, 09:06 GMT 10:06 UK
Darfur aid worker's diary X
Sacha Westerbeek is one of the people trying to help some of the one million Sudanese people who have fled their homes in what the UN is calling "the world's worst humanitarian crisis".

She is working for the United Nations children's agency, Unicef, in Nyala, southern Darfur and is writing a diary for BBC News Online about her experiences.

Tuesday 20 July

0700:

I wake up in the El Geneina Unicef guesthouse. It is definitively a house and there are guests, but it is not the idyllic type of guesthouse it sounds like.

In one room there are many beds close together. Mosquito nets and clothes lines full of laundry are tied to the walls and ceiling and give me the feeling of being trapped in a haunted house - especially at night when I try to find my way to the outside toilet in the pitch dark.

A curtain is the divider between the men's section and our female section, and each night there is a cacophony of snoring, plus the noise from the TV and generator at the neighbours' house.


An ice cold shower brings me back to reality. Never thought that water could get so cold in Darfur!

This morning we visit an IDP (internally displaced persons) settlement just outside town to see the child protection programme and then we hurry to the airport to catch a flight back to the capital Khartoum.

Lots of cups of tea - with plenty of sugar, which I actually don't like - and a couple of hours later than planned, we are in the air.

When asked what time we are expected to land in Khartoum, the steward looks confused. "I'm not sure. At 3... maybe!" It is more a question than a statement. I hope for the best.

The rest of day is filled with travelling, waiting, office work and an official dinner - not so exciting to write about.

Wednesday 21 July

0515:

I get ready for my flight 'home' to Nyala.

The afternoon is interesting as I have to test a new videophone.

Sudanese refugees (Oxfam)
More than a million people in Darfur have fled their homes
Outside I struggle to find the correct direction to make optimum use of the satellite, make sure that all the plugs are fixed and then I make calls to New York, Copenhagen and Amman.

It is great to talk to people and actually see them! A new gadget for the Darfur newsdesk and especially for the media - this is marvellous.

The downside however is that, whenever I want to give an interview by videophone, I have to make sure that I look presentable. No more bad hair days, I'm afraid.




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