In Fall 2011, I spent a few weeks in Abu Shouk internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camp, in an attempt to show another reality in Darfur.
Despite the ongoing armed confrontations, many IDPs do not want to stay passive, just waiting to return home, relying on the largesse of the international community. Step by step, they have slowly and resolutely taken their lives into their own hands, learning new skills, using the resources at their disposal, building and hoping for a better future.
Fleeing from conflict and living in camps that were supposed to be temporary, they are trying to bring some semblance of stability into their lives, by existing between war and peace.
These portraits are a selection of pictures taken for my book "Between War and Peace - Life in a internally displaced persons’ camp in Darfur", visible on http://issuu.com/chassoto/docs/betweenwarandpeace and available soon on Blurb.
From 9 to 15 January 2011, South Sudanese voted for their independence, following a decades long war between the North, mostly Muslim, and the South, mostly Christian and a peace agreement signed in 2005. 98.8 per cent of the voters opted for secession, leading to the division of Sudan, biggest country in Africa till then, and the creation of a new country, the Republic of South Sudan.
In the months preceding the referendum, thousands of South Sudanese left Darfur and went back to their homes, which they had fled years before. Many feared a change in their living condition or wanted to be part of their new country.
In December 2010, 548 South Sudanese living in El Fasher, North Darfur, registered to vote. Many attended the Christmas mass at El Fasher church. Many knew that it would certainly be their last mass together in Darfur.
Pictures by Olivier Chassot
The African Union - United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is currently the largest peacekeeping mission in the world with more than 25,000 staff, civilian, military and police. Among them, almost 3,000 Sudanese, mostly Darfuris. Directly affected by the conflict, they contribute to the Mission’s mandate and try to bring peace and to provide assistance and protection to their compatriots. Unfortunately, they usually occupy lower positions and their contribution is frequently not as recognized as that of their international colleagues.
This project is about showing their background, motivation, contribution and their dreams. It is a tribute to those men and women who try to build a brighter future for their family and their country.
The whole project can be seen at http://issuu.com/chassoto/docs/unamid-national-staff
Between 9 January to 15 January 2011, more than four millions South Sudanese voted for their independence. After a decades long war between the North, mostly Muslim, and the South, mostly Christian, they signed in 2005 a peace agreement and accepted a referendum to be held in 2011. On 7 February 2011, the SouthernSudan Referendum Commission announced that 98.83% of the voters had backed independence, leading to the division of Sudan, previously biggest country in Africa.
Photo documentary first published with Global Brief
A three-day polio vaccination campaign kicked off throughout Darfur on 28 February 2011 as part of the Sudanese Government's efforts to eradicate the disease. The campaign was organized by the Sudanese Ministry of Health in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Thousands of teams were spread across Darfur states to administer the polio vaccine to all children under five years old. The campaign is designed to get rid of the polio virus which re-emerged in the Darfur in 2008.
I followed a vaccination team in Al Salam internally displaced persons (IDP) camp, next to El Fasher, North Darfur, Sudan.
On September 11th 2010, people in New York City and all over the world took time to remember the victims of the terrorist attacks which killed nearly 3000 persons in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania nine years ago.
But this year, 9/11 was not just a day for commemoration and mourning in New York City. An increasing number of American started questioning the official report on those attacks and request the truth. Moreover, a polemic about the potential construction of an Islamic community center and mosque, two blocks from Ground Zero, has created religious tension, political division, fear and incomprehension among the population. This year, Lower Manhattan was filled with a mix of very different emotions and characters.
Airsoft is an activity where replica firearms, shooting plastic rounds, are used to recreate a combat situation involving weapons. Whilst utilised largely for Police and Military training, it is also played around the world as a recreational game.
Attired in military uniform and carrying weapons (snipper rifle, AK-47, uzi, etc…), the Airsoft Club A.C. Red Dragons members spend their weekends playing in a forest on Prvic Island, in an area of old fortification.
Whilst the younger members consider it as a fun exercise, it also performs the function of therapy for members who suffered trauma as a result of the war in Yugoslavia (many of whom had served within the military). In addition, it offers an opportunity to undertake teambuilding and relive old camaraderie that many experienced during their time in military service.
Supporting their own livelihood as well as the local economy, inhabitants of the Abu Shouk and Al-Salaam internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in North Darfur, Sudan, have engaged in what may seem to be the fastest growing industry of the region: brick production. The land surrounding each camp is pitted with massive holes the size of a soccer fields, bearing witness to the importance of the informal brick-making economy that seems to be thriving in the area.
Water is a scarce commodity in this arid region but because it is free for the camp residents, a substantial informal water economy has sprung up in and around the camps. Large amounts of water are used in the manufacturing of bricks, causing a genuine ecological threat, worsened by the large use of firewood to bake the bricks, making them more durable.
Brick making has become increasingly common-place and one of the few livelihoods available to the people at the camp. About 30 percent of internally displaced people work at the site to make bricks by hand that will be used for building shelters in Abu Shouk and Al-Salaam IDP camp.
Locals in the camp begin their work at about 0700 hours each day, digging and shavelling soil, collecting water from the one hand-pump available at the site, to begin making bricks. They work tirelessly all day. During school breaks, children help their mothers in the field as well. One thousand dried bricks cost USD44 and USD50 for the fired ones, smaller, but more resistant.
Since 2004, IDPs, particularly women, have been devoted to manufacturing bricks which are produced on a small scale in their homes as their main source of income. The bricks, mostly the baked ones are sold to builders around El-Fasher while the unbaked ones, cheaper, are used inside the IDP camps.
While the bricks produced at Abu Shouk might be small, the impact they have on improving the livelihood of those in the community is anything but that and contribute to the economic development in the region, one of the many steps to peace in Darfur.
Koh Tao, island in Thailand located near the eastern shore of the Gulf of Thailand, is well know for scuba diving and snorkeling. Chalok Baan Khao bay, to the south of the island, receives every year more tourists looking for a first dive as well as some more experienced, PADI certified divers.
PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) organizes trainings since 1966 and nowodays, almost everybody in good health can dive. But what might look obvious and natural does actually require a minimum of technical knowledge and experience. In 3 to 4 days, PADI instructors prepare the student with a series of courses, mix of theory and dive. This photostory is about the first dive, in a swimming pool, of 7 "PADI Open Water" students.