American actress Mia Farrow says people in Darfur still fear for their safety and that African Union troops, despite their best efforts, are unable to provide enough protection.
Farrow is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and has just completed a visit to Darfur. From the Sudanese capital Khartoum, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about he visits to camps for displaced people.
“We went to Nyala, which is in South Darfur, and we visited three refugee camps there. Then we went to El Fasher and we visited two more refugee camps.”
Asked about the people she met there, Farrow says, “There is no security and that’s paramount to them. You know, I was here 18 months ago, and at that time I was able to travel to West Darfur. This is off limits at the moment because of fighting along the Chad border. So the insecurity is such that many of the humanitarian groups have pulled out altogether. And our UNICEF offices are operating there at one-third capacity. But the insecurity is across the entire Darfur region…the women and children, this has been much reported but it can’t be said enough, are living in absolute terror. It’s a traumatized population.”
She says the rebels are being blamed for much of the violence as well as the janjaweed militias. She says that even in the camps, factions are forming which are adding to the insecurity.
Farrow says much greater support is needed for the AU operation. “You would think given all the rhetoric of let’s support the Africa Union that you would seen that support,” she says. And the goodwill ambassador says AU troops are limited in what they can do. “They have a restrictive mandate that really trims their wings. Many of them are unarmed; thousands of them, more than two thousand are unarmed. They’re under trained and under equipped and way under financed.”
Farrow asked people in the camps whether the AU was providing enough protection. She says, “There would be a resounding no! Everywhere we went they said there is no protection. The rapes continue. You cannot go outside the camps for water. Even in the camps, janjaweed come inside the camps. Now the African Union has ceased to patrol the perimeters of all the camps.”