Aidworker in Chad: When things get hot

It is not always easy to describe what it feels like, when working in a remote environment where all of a sudden "things" run out of control.

I found this blog entry from a DFID aidworker, on mission in Chad. The text in combination with the video,... brings back some memories:

The first time I visited Chad in February last year, I picked the wrong weekend. It was the weekend that the rebels reached N’djamena.

The day had started normally enough – breakfast of dry pastries in the terrace restaurant overlooking the river Chari which snakes past the hotel. But by midmorning, a rebel column of 300 vehicles was 30km from the capital, and closing fast, and we were planning our escape on a crackly line to London. Across the river? A quick rush to the US embassy? Or a dash to the nearby airport to wait for the last Air France flight. If it came.

The airport had been secured by the French, and as we plotted our next move, we had an excellent view of the French fighter jets coming and going.In the hotel, the fighting grew closer. French soldiers arrived. (..)

I had got onto chatting terms with the lady who swept the hotel corridors. She was unfazed, and with a very Gallic shrug-of-the-shoulders, she said ‘We are Chadians; we are used to it’.
In the end, we dashed for the airport. The street had been abuzz with pick-up trucks bristling with government troops brandishing rocket launchers, but was now eerily quiet, like a Sunday in suburban London. We caught the last flight out.

It proved to have been a good move, as our hotel, so close to the Presidential Palace, came in for its share of small arms fire. In the video clip [Ed: shot after they left], I was astonished to see French troops in position outside my room. The remaining guests were huddled in the dark in the kitchen, where the cook was continuing to make omelettes. (Full)
Video courtesy Stop Genocide Now


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