The crisis in Darfur worsened, with 290,000 people fleeing their homes during the first nine months of 2008. Many people fled to Chad and the Central African Republic.
Caritas is part of one of the biggest programmes in south and west Darfur, helping 250,000 people. Caritas covers basic needs, including access to clean water, sanitary facilities and healthcare, and help to people to grow food.
The rate of trauma is very high. Katherine Gicuku Ireri, is a field coordinator in the town of Nyala. We asked her about her work in the Peacebuilding, Protection and Psychosocial programme.
What are the main aims of the Peacebuilding, Protection and Psychosocial (PPP) sector in the Caritas programme?
K: To take care of the complete needs of the people, including psychological, protection and peaceful coexistence needs. A lesson learnt from recent emergencies including Kosovo and Rwanda is the importance of taking care of the wide ranging needs, which relate to their integrity, rights and safety. Needs that may not necessarily be solved by the distribution of food, blankets or water.
How are the communities involved in this programme?
K: We are working with local groups in peacebuilding to maintain peace at the community level, and potentially beyond. These groups are the same people who will be consulted in the peace process by the government and other actors. We will continue to work with communities at the ground level, with sheiks, women, youth. If conflict resolution is understood and peace is built from the ground, this provides a basis for peace beyond the community level.
Have you seen an impact on the lives of those you have been working with?
K: I remember visiting a community centre in Garsila back in 2006 and meeting a woman who was so traumatised by her experiences that she could not speak. But having met her again last year, I saw that she is now able to talk, she is able to cope, to interact with others at the centre. It’s through the support, counselling and companionship at the centre that she has found the strength to speak again. She may not be completely healed but life has really moved forwards for her.
Caritas works together with Action by Churches Together (ACT) International in a joint response to the Darfur crisis.