UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador – actress Mia Farrow – says an international peacekeeping force is needed in eastern Chad, where hundreds of thousands of Darfur refugees are living in camps. In addition, recent fighting and violence along the border with Sudan has displaced more than $100,000 Chadian dollars.
Prior to her visit to Chad, she also toured parts of the Central African Republic, where fighting has also displaced thousands of people.
From Chadian capital N’djamena, Mia Farrow spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua and compared conditions in Darfur to eastern Chad.
“In 2004, this was the worst case scenario. And what everyone feared and predicted was that Darfur’s crisis would spread across its border into Chad. And this is precisely what has happened. Eastern Chad is on fire. Chadian villages are on Fire. Janjaweed (militias from Sudan) have reached far into Chad and joined with Arab militia in Chad to attack black African villages along the eastern border of Chad. So, what we’re seeing is an identical situation with identical atrocities,” she says.
Farrow relates the story of a girl she met in eastern Chad. She had fled Darfur with her mother after the janjaweed attacked her village three and a half years ago, killing all the men. She found safety, for a time, in Chad.
“Now, the janjaweed had found them there,” says Farrow. She adds, “To compound the tragedy, a group of children that she had been with were playing with a grenade that they found because the area is so militarized now. And they picked up a grenade, which exploded, severely wounding 18 children, she among them. And as she lay in bandages, with flies settled on the bandages, she said my family says that the international force is going to come in and protect us. And then she said we’ve waited so long.”
The UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador says this young girl represents a microcosm of all the innocent civilians who’ve suffered in Darfur, Chad and the CAR. She says, “They don’t even have a day free of fear, never mind clean water. We saw children drinking mud.”
Asked what she’ll tell UN officials and delegates when she briefs them on what she has seen, Farrow says, “The primary request from all of us right now should be for what the United Nations has recommended - An international peacekeeping force to come in. it should have come in to Darfur.” She says such a force is also needed in CAR to protect civilians and humanitarian workers. Farrow says, “Protection, protection, protection is what’s needed.”