Page last updated at 00:18 GMT, Thursday, 5 March 2009

ICC gives solace to Darfur refugees

Crowds gather at the Farchana camp
There are about 250,000 refugees in 12 camps along the Chad-Sudan border

By Celeste Hicks
BBC News, Chad

Quiet contentment is the best way to describe reactions to the news of Omar al-Bashir's indictment in the Farchana refugee camp - a dustbowl in the far east of Chad, home to 20,000 Sudanese from Darfur.

Although some of the more educated camp leaders articulated their happiness at the verdict, there was no massive outpouring of jubilation, or much to show that today was different from any other.

"In all the camps we are happy about this news, we wish it had happened sooner" says Al-Tayeb Hamid, who has lived here for five years.

So why such a muted reaction?

"I am sure there will be a demonstration in the coming days," he says.

Aid delivery

Our temporary radio studio set up in the sand, with a loudly braying donkey providing an authentic soundtrack, attracted an interested crowd of women and children.

"If they arrest him that will bring peace and security to Darfur," says one of the women sitting in the shade of a tin-roofed UNHCR building.

Woman in Farchana camp
Some refugees have managed to rebuilt their lives in the camp

"All we want is to go home," she adds.

"Would it be better if President Bashir had been indicted for genocide as well?" we asked cautiously.

She turns to her neighbour, who looks bashful. They whisper a few words to each other and eventually they turn back and smile, not sure what to say.

As we journalists argue frantically with editors in London and kick malfunctioning equipment, a steady stream of ladies dressed in stunning yellow and orange striped fabric glide silently past with grain sacks and water balanced on their heads.

The children start to wander off. Today's food distribution by the UN's World Food Programme seems to be the new show in town.

No return

Farchana is home to Massalit, Zaghawa and Erenga people from Darfur.


It is one of 12 camps containing 250,000 refugees dotted along the Chad-Sudan border.

With access to healthcare and education for their children, many refugees have managed to rebuild something of their lives, but it remains virtually impossible to return home to Darfur.

And that is why today's judgement is so significant, as these refugees who have so little to hope for clearly recognise.

Someone is finally being held accountable for their suffering, and the outside world is taking an interest.

"We believe that if he really is arrested and taken to The Hague, that will be the end of it," says refugee Mohammed Al-Fadl as we pack up to leave.

"We want that to happen as soon as possible."

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