Teenage Refugee From Darfur Dreams Of Returning Home

In Goz Beida, Eastern Chad, where new fighting has broken out between rebels and government forces, thousands of refugees from Darfur live in a large camp supported by WFP. Among them is 17-year-old Ekhbal, who yearns for a real home where she can be a normal teenager.

Video by Jonathan Dumont

GOZ BEIDA -- “I am dreaming of going back home one day,” says Ekhbal Adam Mohamad, who lives in the Djabal Refugee Camp in Goz Beida. “I miss so many things: my friends, my music, but also the fruits I ate regularly. It is very hard to get used to life here in the camp. I only know my immediate neighbors.”

Four years have passed since Ekhbal experienced the worst day in her life, witnessing the slaughter of the men in her village. She was chased away together with other women and children. Ekhbal left everything behind and ran barefoot to the border where she was lucky to find her parents as well as her five younger brothers and sisters.

Ekhbal cooking a meal over a small fire on the groundLong wait for water

An NGO brought her family to the Djabal camp where they lived in a tent until it fell apart. In the meantime her family built a few small huts to eat, sleep and store their few belongings. All Ekhbal has been able to acquire in the past four years are two old dresses and a tape recorder which stopped working a few weeks after she got it.

Life is a daily struggle in the dry, crowded camp where temperatures often reach up to 50 degrees Celsius. “Almost every day I stand in line for hours to fetch a few buckets of water, necessary to cook and to wash,” Ekhbal said, surrounded by a very noisy crowd of women close to the fountain."

WFP provides food

"We only survive thanks to the sorghum and wheat flour provided by the World Food Programme; we do not have access to land to grow anything near the camp and day jobs in Goz Beida are rare,” Ekhbal added.

In Eastern Chad, WFP provides assistance to 250,000 Sudanese refugees as well as 180,000 Internally Displaced People through monthly general food distributions, therapeutic and supplementary feeding activities for children under five years of age as well as for pregnant women and young mothers. In addition, WFP is implementing emergency school feeding for 32,000 displaced children.

Concern for the welfare of the refugees in the Goz Beida camp and the rest of Eastern Chad has risen in the wake of a new upsurge of fighting between rebels and Chad government forces.