Yesterday I made a mission to assess the human rights impact of recent conflict in an area which I won't name - just to be certain that the stories I tell here and the pictures I share don't put the people involved in any danger. I met mostly women and children who have not only been directly affected by the violence, facing armed men in their homes and seeing their fathers, brothers and husbands killed, but who are also now suffering as a result of having fled their home villages. They all reported that they still felt afraid of reprisals, so although I know you are all friends I'd rather be a bit over cautious.
As well as the kids, I was really impressed by fortitude of the women who bear the brunt of so much of the destruction. I met one 36 year old woman with 9 children (eldest daughter 20 years old, youngest baby breast-feeding as we talked). Her son had been killed in one ambush and then her husband (who was paralyzed from the waist down) was killed when the armed men from the other faction attacked their house two weeks ago. The eldest daughter was shot twice in the arm while she tried to protect her disabled father from the gunmen. We sat in the filthy room she and her children have been living in since they fled their village the night of the fighting, when her house was also looted, burned and shelled.
Anyway - things are a bit frantic and I'm off on another mission to another province tomorrow so this post will be brief.