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Page last updated at 19:52 GMT, Monday, 14 July 2008 20:52 UK

UN worker tells of fear in Darfur

A UN soldier speaks to Sudanese women during a protest against the decision to indict Sudan's president

As the United Nations withdraws all of its non-essential staff from the war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur, one UN worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, describes the mood at the headquarters in El Fasher.

I have been in Darfur for one year working as part of the mission support staff. They told us that non-emergency staff are being evacuated and I am going to have to be relocated to Entebbe in Uganda on Tuesday. Others are being moved to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

I will just take my evacuation baggage - I am only allowed to take 15 kilos.

At the moment everyone is scared. One of my neighbours found a bullet in the gate of the house that he rents, so we decided it is better to sleep in our office.

The situation is very tense. People are very scared because they don't know what is going to happen.

Yesterday we did an evacuation exercise and practiced moving into the shelters here.

I would say that news of the indictment has definitely led to instability.

Since the announcement about the indictment the rebels have been happy. I think they will provoke the Sudanese who will take reprisals. They won't do this officially but they will do it using the Janjaweed militia.

Unamid (the UN force) is still very under-equipped. It is really still the African Union force - it has just changed its name - that is all.

Of the 9,000 troops here about 700 are being relocated. The rest is expected to stay.

Our movements are restricted. There was a big demonstration in Khartoum against the indictment of President Bashir. There was also a smaller one in El Fasher but we were not able to go there.

We are now at what they call here 'phase 4' whereby all non-essential staff leave (we were at 'phase 3' which meant there were curfews). But if it gets worse, we will move to 'phase 5' where they close the mission completely and leave.

I am worried that there will be attacks against UN personnel. We are scared of the rebels and the Janjaweed. It is very difficult to distinguish between them and know who is attacking you.

The whole mission has been a mess. No-one knows what they are doing. Only after some UN staff were attacked recently did they start to keep us better informed
I think an all out conflict could break out. The IDPs (Internally Displaced People) living in the camps could be under threat from attack.

The worst case scenario is that the Sudanese forces start to bomb villages as they did before. Then the rebels might respond and the militia will respond and in the confusion the UN would just pack up everything and go.

This whole mission has been a mess. No one knows what they are doing. Only after some UN staff were attacked recently did they start to keep us better informed.

Even our camp cannot accommodate all the staff. The emergency shelters are not big enough for everyone.

We have a lot of resources but I would say that 80% is spent on UN staff and not on the Darfuris who we are supposed to be protecting and helping. The money is spent on cars and accommodation for the UN.

If you complain and say it is a mess - they just say "Yes it's a mess, it's the UN!"

I am very disappointed. I came here because I wanted to help people but I have found a big bureaucracy. If you do well you might get a pat on the back but if things don't work they blame you.

I think they have to change their strategy and get serious because right now it's a complete mess.



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