July 13, 2007

A war that has killed 200,000 and displaced 2.5 million

When Darfuri refugees started streaming across the border into Chad four years ago, fleeing a civil war that has killed 200,000 and displaced 2.5 million, many Chadians opened their arms in welcome. Al-Hajj Saboor Arta Bakit took one step further. He gave the refugees some of his land to raise their own crops. This step has earned him some local respect, some derision, and three separate stints in the local jail. But Mr. Bakit says he was only acting on the urging of his heart. Not only does Bakit's gift provide 160 Sudanese families with the chance to become self-sufficient by growing their own food, it also builds a crucial bridge between Chadians and Sudanese refugees whose welcome may be wearing thin. Despite sharing the same languages, the same religion, and in some cases the same relatives, the addition of some 57,000 refugees to the local population of 60,000 has doubled the burden on water and land resources.

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