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Hadija Yousouf is a 27-year-old woman living in the Gouroukoun camp for internally displaced people outside Goz Beida in eastern Chad.

Hadija is married to Abdullah and has seven children. The eldest, Rakhya, is 14 and the youngest, Salime, is just six weeks old. She used to live in the peaceful village of Koumou, with a population of 1,000, situated 5 km from the border with Sudan.

She had a good life – they owned 150 cattle and a couple of donkeys. They also grew vegetables, such as potatoes, yam and tomatoes. 

Forced to flee

Today, Hadija’s life has been thrown into turmoil by the conflict in Darfur spilling over into Chad. Three of her neighbouring villages were attacked by the Janjaweed, who are armed rebels involved in the Darfur conflict. They raided Koumou before taking some livestock. 15 months ago they came again, this time in force.

The villagers had no means of protection. 50 men and three women were killed and many, including Hadijah, were beaten – she bears the scars to prove it. 

She lost her brothers and uncles. She is unsure exactly how many because they were separated. She hopes that some got away to refugee camps on the Sudanese side of the border.

Internally displaced camp

It took her family four days to get to Gouroukoun. They travelled with very few possessions, managing to take a donkey that has since died. They have built themselves a hut out of brushwood gathered from the surrounding area, measuring 10 feet by 8 feet. 11 of her family live in it. They had to beg and borrow food when they arrived.