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Last Updated: Monday, 1 May 2006, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
Horror continues in Sudan's Darfur
By Orla Guerin
BBC News, southern Darfur

Take a ride through southern Darfur and you will find plenty of evidence of the horrors unfolding in Sudan's war-torn region.

Twelve-year-old Zeinab
I am afraid. During my sleep, I always see the Janjaweed burning my village
Twelve-year-old Zeinab

Troops from the African Union (AU) escorted us through empty shells of villages, devoid of people and livestock.

More than 2m people have been displaced since the conflict began in 2003, when mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against the government in Khartoum, accusing it of discrimination and neglect.

Walking around the villages it was clear that people fled in a hurry. We saw smashed pots in many places and in one village there was a child's blue sandal on the ground, just one, and a football.

For months, Arab Janjaweed militias have been conducting a campaign of destruction with alleged help from the government in Khartoum.

To flush out the rebels they have been targeting innocent civilians.

What we have found, touring through this area, is village after village burnt, destroyed or abandoned.

By the end of March the count was 90 villages.


Two years after the international community woke up to the crisis in Darfur, the reality is that villages are still being torched and civilians are still being forced to flee.

Burnt down village in Darfur
Villages are still being torched by militia

It is not known how many have been killed since the conflict began, but some estimates put the number at 300,000.

Those who fled the villages are now cast adrift in camps for the displaced like Dar El Salaam, which is a six-kilometre stretch of dust and crude huts.

There are women walking around draped in brightly coloured cloths, like flashes of life on a dead landscape.

Sitting with her mother is a softly spoken girl called Zeinab, aged 12. Tall and thin, she wears a plain headscarf and flip-flops on her feet.

She tells us what happened when the Janjaweed came to her village.

"When they came they started burning our village. I saw all old men, old women who lived in there because they were not able to run. Even my grandmother, we left her in the house and they burned the house," she says.

From time to time, Zeinab looks away - she is close to tears. Every night she relives that awful day all over again.

"I am afraid. During my sleep, I always see the Janjaweed burning my village."

Keeping watch

Darfur holds many terrors. When women leave the camp to collect firewood, the Janjaweed militia are lying in wait.

Baba Gana Kingibe
The international community should be filled with a sense of deep regret and remorse
Baba Gana Kingibe
AU mission head

Many women have been raped.

Now, when the women go to chop wood, the AU is close by patrolling the area.

Keeping watch is the AU's main role here. It came with a limited mandate, lacking both equipment and troops.

Baba Gana Kingibe, head of the AU mission, told the BBC the international community should have done a lot more for Darfur.

"The international community should be filled with a sense of deep regret and remorse," he says.

"Especially Darfur coming after Rwanda, when there was a lot of hand wringing all over the place and finger pointing."

While the world has argued and hesitated and forgotten, Zeinab has suffered.

She wanted to grow up to be an English teacher. Now, all her dreams are gone and she wakes in fear every night.

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