sudanese government

Golo, Darfur

A boy rides a donkey past a UN-African Union armoured vehicle in Golo, a former rebel bastion which was recently captured by Sudanese government forces. The UN is preparing to downsize its 17,000-strong peacekeeping force in the war-torn region of Darfur

Photograph: Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images

A Peak Inside Brad’s Mind

     Continuing on with his day, Brad began his weekend routine.  A light breakfast followed by some light reading.  His current read was about Darfur, the genocide of men, women, and children in Western Sudan by the Sudanese government.  Once receiving their independence from Britain, the North and South were immediately embroiled in a civil war, the South believing it wasn’t properly represented in the government in the north.  The site of valuable natural resources such as minerals and oil, Darfur was previously thought useless and it’s people ignored.  With this sudden wealth, the North demanded that that all revenue from its sale or use be turned over to the government.  When the people of Darfur refused, the Sudanese government sent the Janjaweed, their militia, to destroy rebellion and take the land from the people. In the process, millions were displaced and hundreds of thousands died.  

     Scanning the rest of the article, Brad’s gut twisted with each sentence.  Human capacity for cruel and horrible actions was unlimited yet he found himself surprised each time he came across something like this.  He’d been in Iraq, seen first hand how things like these occurred.  He himself had done some things that he was reading about, the unmerciful killings of everyone deemed hostile. There was a small part of him that wanted to stop caring about it all. To wake up one day and not feel a twinge of guilt and helplessness when reading about these things, when turning on the news, when hearing his orders from command, just stop the flood of feelings it brought up.  But that wasn’t good.  Because in order for that to happen, he had to be desensitized first.  These tragedies had to occur on a daily basis all around the world, on a mass scale, to ever reach that level of normalcy.  And while Brad was a heartless killing machine that would follow command’s orders despite them setting off every moral alarm known to humanity, he had some soul left in him.  As much as he’d like this inner turmoil shit he was going through to end, it couldn’t be at the expense of the rest of the world.  He wouldn’t let innocent people burn because he didn’t want to deal with the consequences of what he had done.

SUDAN. Jebel Marra. March 2015. Members of the rebel group Sudan Liberation Army led by Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) climb towards the front lines in Jebel Marra, Central Darfur. The mountainous area has been a stronghold of the SLA-AW since the conflict between the neglected population and the Sudanese government broke out in 2003.

Photograph: Adriane Ohanesian

Ohanesian has committed her career to documenting humanitarian crises, traveling to places like Somalia, South Sudan and Burma. But Sudan was unique. “I’ve just never been to an area like this where people just have nothing,” she says. “The best thing I can do as a photographer is to show what I’ve seen on the ground and to tell others … If that sparks some sort of response, that’s wonderful.”


Watch these Sudanese women talk about Invisible Labour and how they got on their feet and started their own business, knew their rights and empowered other women with the help of charitable Cooperatives which helped them fight against the injustices implemented by the tyrant Sudanese government.


The Nuba people inhabit the Nuba mountains of South Kordofan, one of the most remote and inaccessible places of Sudan.
They managed to keep their traditions, customs and culture intact until recently, partly due to the fact that they are totally isolated.
First small town being 100 miles away, they speak other languages and follow different customs involving tatooing, body painting, wrestling, knife fights or dances of love.

Shortly after the independence of Sudan in 1956, the people of the south were excluded from the heritage of the colonial era under the pretext that they were not educated.
Later on the North imposed the islamic sharia to stop the non Muslims to access key positions in the Governement. Since the 60’s the fertile plains of Mount Nuba are reattributed to very lucrative, intensive farming projects, runned by the Sudanese state. In 1992, jihad was declared against the Nubas. Several evidences prove the Sudanese governement is guilty of leading war and to perpetuate crimes against humanity in the Nuba mountains.

Shells symbolize the beginnning of existence but also protection, preservation. Some of them are relics of the past, shaped by the times and tides, they stayed strong and colorful, intact.

Impassable Obstacles

OK, here is the one shot that I promised. It’s a bit long. As I said before, it’s snapshots over a period of time. I quite like this one. The last lines make me cry a bit, mostly because Darfur is near and dear to my heart. Also - SMUT, so beware. (I’m not entirely comfortable with writing smut, but ya know.) 


“This isn’t exactly what I thought I’d be doing at 25,” Rae whispers to the gentleman sitting next to her on the plane. She tries to keep as quiet as possible so as to not wake the other passengers. Rae never can stop prattling on when she’s nervous. As the plane lurches forward Rae reaches out to grab the arm rest, her hand landing on the gentleman’s forearm. “Bleedin’ hate flying.”

The man nods in response, his lips drawn tight together, his hands holding the arm rests in a death grip.

“It would be just my luck if this plane went down. My mum would drag me right back from death just to tell me ‘told you so’, Rae mimics her mother. Linda hadn’t been very impressed with Rae’s decision to work for the United Nations after graduation from the University of Bristol’s Law School. She was especially unimpressed when Rae told her that her first assignment was taking her to Darfur to work on a potential agreement between the Sudanese government and the Sudan Liberation Army. No daughter of mine is going to a war-torn country, Rachel Earl. Over my dead body. Don’t look at me like that, I’m bloody serious.” her mother had tried to stop her. Another lurch of the plane brings Rae back to the present. She notices that the man next to her has gone very pale and has started hyperventilating. In seconds he has a paper bag pressed firmly around his mouth as he attempts to normalize his breathing.

Rae takes hold of his hand, squeezing it. “Just breath with me…in,” she takes a deep breath watching the man open his eyes to look at her. “And out,” she continues. Once his breathing is sufficiently regulated he pulls the bag from his mouth. The man pushes his glasses up from the bridge of his nose, offering Rae a small smile of gratitude.

Rae smiles in return. “I’m Rae by the way,” she pulls her hand from around his, offering it to him to shake. It seemed a bit silly now that she thinks of it.

“Archie,” he takes her hand, shaking it roughly.

“You here with the U.N., Archie?” she asks.

He nods, relaxing back into his seat, his head turned towards her. “Interpreter. You?”

“Yeah, lawyer,” she scrunches up her nose, expecting him to wince or grimace. Instead he looks a bit impressed. She sits up a little straighter in her seat.

“I take it you’re a virgin?” he asks.

Her eyes widen, her mouth dropping open, she can’t believe the gall of this man “excuse me?”

He laughs at her look of surprise. “It’s what they call the newbies. The ones who’ve never been stationed in a war-torn region before,” he explains, his laughter coming in short bursts.

“That obvious?” she asked, laughing with him.

“Well for one, you’re dressed a bit too nicely for where we’re going,” he looks over her attire.

Rae checks out Archie’s outfit of jeans, a fitted black t-shirt and boots before glancing down at her own. “Maybe a dress wasn’t the smartest choice.” She blushes.

“Still have time to change,” Archie points to the toilet.

Archie greets her with an approving grin when she steps out of the bathroom in a short sleeve blouse and khaki shorts, her feet now covered in her new pair of hiking boots. They pinch her toes as she walks.

“We’ll be landing in approximately 15 minutes at Geneina airport. Passengers please take your seats and fasten your seatbelts,” comes over the speaker, the lights flashing to notify those not listening to buckle up. Rae pulls the belt tight over her hips, the buckle resting uncomfortably against her stomach.

“On to our next adventure,” Archie speaks from next to her.


It has been two days since they’d landed on Sudanese soil. For January it’s sweltering. So sweltering that even the higher ups of the United Nations are sporting nothing more than t-shirts and shorts on a daily basis.

Rae is wandering the halls of the once posh hotel aimlessly. Much of the decor, paintings and chandeliers have been stolen. Bare fixtures hanging from the ceiling and nails sticking out of the walls decorate the hallways and lobby. Suitcases abandoned by frenzied travelers lay behind the desk where a concierge once stood greeting guests, their contents left strewn across the floor, long forgotten. Rae wonders about the people who had owned these belongings. Had they left in such a rush that they only took what they could carry? Worse yet, were they themselves taken? Rae swallows the lump that has formed in her throat. The devastation is everywhere. The once likely bustling airport she and Archie had arrived at was barren. Their drive to the hotel provided no comfort, smoke filled the landscape and whole villages they passed were burnt to the ground. What was most disturbing was the lack of people anywhere. The only people Rae had come across prior to the hotel’s peacekeepers were heavily armed men, their eyes void of emotion. She couldn’t tell who was friend or foe.

Rae circles back to the lobby where she finds Archie sitting with a group of people she doesn’t recognize. Archie’s eyes light up when he sees Rae. He stands to greet her, kissing her cheek. He turns her towards the group. “Everyone, this is Rae.”

A man with light brown hair, striking blue eyes and a contagious grin steps forward to shake her hand. “Arnold Peters, but me friends call me Chop,” his grin widens and Rae notices a slight gap between his front teeth. “Human Rights Officer,” he adds.

Next, a tiny nymph of a woman with bright red hair steps forward, her smile even brighter than Chop’s. She surprises Rae by pulling her forward in a hug. “I’m Izzy, Regional Researcher for Amnesty International.”

The pretty brunette sitting in the lap of the last man in the room stands up and sticks her hand out for Rae to shake. “Chloe Gemmel, Journalist.” Rae takes her proffered hand, shaking it.

Everyone turns towards the last man, still sitting. He’s taken a real interest in his cuticles, not bothering to look Rae’s way. “And this grumpy sod is Finn Nelson, Political Affairs Officer for the U.N.” Archie points towards him.

“I’m Rae, Human Rights Lawyer for the U.N.” Rae introduces herself.

The man named Finn scoffs, finally glancing a look at Rae. “Just what we need, another blood sucking lawyer here.”

Rae glares at him. This is the reaction she always expects. “Yeah, blood sucking lawyer here in the middle of a war trying to find a way to help the people of Darfur,” she quips, her hands firmly on her hips, her eyes shooting daggers.

“Listen princess,” Finn gets up from his seat. “Whatever it is we’re doing here, it certainly isn’t for the benefit of the people of Darfur,” he steps closer to her. “The sooner you learn that, the better.” With that he leaves the room.


Rae pulls her flimsy vest top away from her body, the material sticking to her stomach in the most unflattering way. Luckily it was only Archie in the room with her. “Bullocks it’s stifling in here,” Rae groans, resting her elbows on the table in front of her.

“What’s that, Rae?” the voice comes over the speaker from the phone in front of her. Her boss Steven has conferenced her in to a meeting taking place in Abuja, Nigeria with the African Union.

Rae’s eyes widen, “Er…I was just thinking out loud. Ya think the Sudanese Liberation Army (“SLA”) would be happier if we asked for more reparations from the Government?“ Silence overtakes the room, but Rae thinks she can hear quiet whisperings coming from the other line.

“Salim thinks that might be adequate to at least get Minnawi to consider the agreement, along with the government taking on some sort of measure to enable more humanitarian aid to flow into the region,” Steven agrees. “Let’s run some numbers and conference tomorrow at 10 a.m.?” Steven asks.

“Sounds good,” Rae rolls her eyes in Archie’s direction. The line goes dead. “Beaurocrats,” Rae mutters. It was always another conference call, another day. It was nearing February and they hadn’t made any real progress.

“Looks like that’s it for today, Rae,” Archie motions towards the door, getting up out of his seat. He looks down at his watch, eyes widening. “4 fucking hours,” he grumbles. “Fancy a drink? I need to get pissed.” He drags Rae up and out of her chair.

“Just let me change. This thing is soaked through,” she pinches the material of her vest between her fingers. “If you weren’t gay I reckon you’d be staring at my tits right now,” she drags her hands over her chest. “You can see my nipples, God how embarassin’” she stops, her hands cupping the bottom of her breasts, her mouth slightly ajar. There in the doorway is Finn fucking Nelson, his eyes nearly falling out of his skull.

“S..sorry, he mumbles, rushing back through the door.

"Acts as if he’s never seen a pair of tits in his life,” Archie mocks. Rae laughs and excuses herself to change, her cheeks tinged pink.

Rae enters Archie’s room in a fresh vest top and an almost knee length flowing skirt. She couldn’t bear to put on leggings or tights for fear that she might drop dead from heat stroke. She’d take her thighs rubbing together and some of the scars on her lower thigh showing over the hospital in Darfur. The whole gang is there, sans Chop, whom she’s told is nicking some vodka from one of the peacekeeper’s room. Finn is deep in conversation with Chloe, both sitting on the edge of Archie’s bed, Chloe’s legs draped over his. Rae can hear snippets of their conversation, words like refugee, children and water.

“Rae, tell me how your first month has been!” Izzy comes out of the bathroom, grabbing Rae’s hand and pulling her towards the settee.

“Oh ya know. Loads of conference calls with the African Union lately,” Rae shifts uncomfortably on the seat cushion.

“Not playing the role of hero like you thought you would, eh Mae?” Finn interrupts their conversation from his perch on the bed.

“It’s Rae,” she narrows her eyes at him. It’s true, it wasn’t what she’d expected. She’ll never give him the satisfaction of knowing her discomfort with the whole situation. “Prick,” she mutters under breath. She turns her back to him, focusing back on Izzy. She finds out that Izzy has been there much longer than the rest of them, not long after the beginning in 2003. She had come with the first wave of humanitarian aid workers after word got out that genocide may be taking place. She had only recently been moved to Omdurman, as it had increasingly been getting more volatile out in the field and Izzy had been told she either had to report here or come home. Izzy was currently conducting a research assignment at the refugee camp outside of Omdurman. She tells Rae that Chloe often accompanies her to the camp to see if she can get interviews. Sometimes Chop and Finn also go, when they aren’t too busy. She offers Rae the chance to come along. A convoy is coming in the next couple months to bring a shipment of medicine to the camp and those who are in dire need of it. Rae agrees to go, hoping that some of the refugees can give her an idea of what could help ease their loss and suffering.

Chops arrival distracts her from the uneasiness enveloping her. His offering burns her throat and eases her doubts, at least for now. They’re all sat in a circle talking about how they all have gotten to this point in their lives. It turns out that Archie and Finn have been friends for two decades. They had both met Chop at Durham University where they all became fast friends. Finn and Chop met Izzy when they came to Darfur four months earlier. They’d heard stories about these fearless aid workers, walking into any situation to help those in need. From what Rae could gather, Izzy was the epitome of that description. The men had both taken a liking to Izzy immediately, desperate to protect this tiny spitfire. Chloe had arrived a month before Rae and Archie. She had been frantic to get away from small town England, an abusive boyfriend, and the local news station. She needed to do something important, be important. Rae watches Finn stroke Chloe’s knee as she tells her story. Needing to suppress the small spark of jealousy starting to shoot through her, Rae gets up to change the CD. She silently scolds herself for feeling anything but spite towards Finn, the tosser.

“At least this lot left some good music.” Rae slides The Smiths in, “How Soon Is Now” filling the room.

Chop grabs Rae around the waist, bringing her towards him. “Let’s dance, baby girl.” Rae smiles and accepts, her hand grabbing his, her other hand resting between his shoulder and neck. She squeals as he dips her, laughing as she gets her balance back.

“Who knew Chop was such a charming dancer?” she asks the gang.

“I did,” Izzy whispers dreamily, watching the pair.

The group joins Chop and Rae on their feet, Archie marching Chloe around the room while Finn spins Izzy around and around, Izzy’s laughter melding perfectly with The Smiths. Suddenly Chop excuses himself, kissing Rae on the cheek and marching over towards Izzy and Finn.

“Get lost mate,” Chop bumps his shoulder into Finn’s. Finn holds up his hands in surrender, a grin on his face. Rae isn’t blind, Finn is obviously really fit, but that grin, it’s like she’s seeing just how good looking he is for the first time.

He gives her no time to ponder this revelation, waltzing over to her. “Care to dance, Mae?” he winks. She nods mutely, her eyes taking him in. He takes her hand in his, his other moving to her hip. She finally comes to, moving her hand to his shoulder. He glides her across the room, his fingers tightening at her hip. “At least your music choices make up a bit for your career choice.” He’s watching her face for a reaction, biting back a smirk.

The Cure’s “Friday I’m In Love” comes over the speakers, causing Rae to grin, a foreign expression for her lately, especially in the company of this insufferable prick. Finn drops her hand, moving his to her lower back and pulling her body closer to his. Her arms instinctively come around his neck in a flash, molding her body to his. Her breath hitches when she feels him roll his hips, his pelvis pressing gloriously into hers. Every spot their bodies are touching is on fire. Rae doesn’t understand why. Her musings are interrupted by a cough coming from behind her. She watches Finn’s face fall. Did he just now realize who he was dancing with? Finn pulls away from her, his hands leaving her body. Chloe steps into Rae’s line of sight, her hand possessively around Finn’s forearm. Soon Chloe is pulling Finn from the room, leaving Rae standing alone.

Archie steps in, taking Finn’s place, pulling Rae close to him. “Don’t mind them. I assume they’re just providing each other with a bit of comfort,” he raises his eyebrows. Rae nods her understanding. Archie smiles knowingly, dancing Rae across the room.

When Rae leaves Archie’s room twenty minutes later, she finds Finn and Chloe in the hallway outside. Finn has Chloe pressed against the wall, his lips attached to her neck, his hand moving under her skirt. Finn stills as Rae passes him, his eyes shut tight. Rae thanks her lucky stars that his back is turned to her as she hastily makes her way to her room.


“I don’t know. It all feels a bit too platonic for me,” Izzy spoke, pulling a fresh pair of sheets over her bed. With so few of the rooms being used it’s easy to nick a pair of sheets from another room.

Chloe walks over to her friend. “Maybe you need to show him you want more, Iz. Flirt more.” Chloe purses her lips. “That’s what I did with Antonio. Batted my eyelashes, touched his arm a lot. You know.”

Rae’s lips press together, careful not to sound hopeful or pathetic. Was she hopeful? “Antonio?” she asks from her seat on the settee where she is currently making a makeshift bed for their girl’s night.

Chloe nods, a smirk dancing on her lips. “One of the Italian peacekeepers at the gates.”

“What about Finn?” It slips out before Rae can stop it. She immediately wants to reach out and pluck the words out of the air between them and shove them back in.

Chloe’s eyebrow quirks. “Oh that, babe that ended nearly a month ago.”

“Just two weeks ago I saw you two in the hall, Chlo.” Rae questions. There was no denying that those two were about to go at it.

“That was a bit of a surprise really. Think Finn had a bit too much of that Vodka. I wanted to talk to him and we ended up going at it in the hall and then he just kind of stopped. He pulled his hand out of my knickers before I’d even come, made some excuse and stalked off.” Chloe brushes a nonexistent crumb from her top before continuing. “That Finn Nelson is after nothing but sex, once he learned that I wanted more, off he went.”

“Oh that’s awful,” Izzy speaks up, wrapping an arm around Chloe’s waist.

Chloe shrugs. “Least he was damn good at it.” She grins, looking to both girls. Rae can’t help but notice a quiet sadness in the other girl’s eyes, one not easily covered up by the grin she’s plastered on.

“Well, he’s a right prick if you ask me,” Rae walks over to the pair, wrapping her arm around Chloe’s shoulders.

They all pick up their flutes of champagne, clinking their glasses together. Rae clears her throat. “To being done with pricks.” They all down the remainder of their glasses, grinning madly at each other.

“Now Rae, Antonio’s friend Dom has been asking about you,” Chloe turns to Rae.

Rae’s mouth drops open a bit. “What do you mean?”

Chloe pulls away from Izzy and Rae, refilling their glasses. “You know what I mean, Rae.” Chloe turns to Rae, offering her the glass, her eyebrows wiggling up and down as she giggles. “They’ve asked us down for a drink later.”

Izzy is bouncing on the balls of her feet, her newly filled glass coming dangerously close to overflowing down the side. Rae shrugs in response. “Sure.” She vaguely has an idea of who Dom is. He’s not the fittest bloke, but he is dead nice, and best of all, he’s interested in her.

Some thirty minutes and two glasses of champagne later, Rae is feeling less than giddy. Her friends have managed to convince her to wear a burgundy dress that leaves far too little of her body to the imagination with its plunging neckline. Luckily the dress makes up for the neckline with a modest length, hitting just below her knees. Rae pulls the material of the dress away from her stomach, wincing when it flattens back out against her skin in the mirror. She closes her eyes, her fingernails digging into her palms. She counts to ten before opening her eyes again. “You are smart. You are funny. You are pretty. You are perfect,” she tells her reflection. Forcing herself to stand up straight, she leaves the bathroom.

Izzy’s hands are clasped over her mouth when Rae exits. “Rae you look amazing,” she squeals.

“You look great, babe,” Chloe’s stood to the side, dressed in a floral summer dress.

Rae smiles at the girls, muttering her thanks.


Two pints down and Rae can barely keep her eyes open. However kind Dom is, he’s boring her to near death, only to be resuscitated by a gulp of snakebite. Rinse and repeat. She sets her glass down. “Dom, fancy a walk?

He stands up in acceptance, taking her hand in his. His hand is too big and too clammy. She wants to remove her hand from his but fears she’ll appear too rude. They walk out the front doors of the hotel, carefully treading over the fragmented stairs. He pulls her towards the gates, but she stops abruptly. She shakes her head. She’s hesitant to walk any further.

"It’s OK, Rae. You fine. I protect,” he attempts to reassure her with his broken English. She acquiesces, allowing him to pull her through the gate. She notices his nod to the peacekeeper on duty.

Once out of sight of the hotel, Dom tightens his hold on Rae’s hand, dragging her to him with a jerk of his arm. Affronted, she places her free hand against his chest. “No.”

She can feel his hand pressed firmly into her back, hard and ungiving. She reaches behind her to remove his unwanted appendage from her back. She’s confronted with the barrel of a rifle encased in her now shaking hand. “Jewels,” the voice comes from behind her. Tremors move through her body. As if on autopilot Rae reaches up to unclasp the necklace she’s wearing, shakily handing it behind her. She expects the armed man to leave, but he doesn’t. He drags the tip of his rifle down her back and up again.

“Here, take this and get out of here. We have nothing for you here,” a familiar voice comes from somewhere to the side of Rae. She’s lost track of direction, lost track of distance. She looks to her right to see Finn step into the light, his watch dangling from his fingers. A man with a blue bandana around his neck and wearing army fatigues steps forward, collecting the watch. The men still do not leave.

“Minnawi would hate to know one of his favorite U.N. officials was accosted by you all,” she hears Finn speak. She’s glad for his quick lie. The men look at each other. She notices that there are 5 others. They must decide she isn’t worth getting an earful over, as they get into their nearly broken down jeep and speed off.

She hears bone hitting bone before she sees it. Dom is kneeling down in front of her, his hand clutching his jaw. Finn is towering over him. “You could have gotten her killed,” Finn spits. She can see that he’s visibly shaking. Finn makes to step forward, his foot arching towards Dom’s gut, but Rae forces her feet forward. She wraps her hand around Finn’s forearm. She can feel the tremors coursing through his body. At least she thinks it’s his tremors and not hers.

“Finn,” she questions. He looks at her then, his warm brown eyes full of something she can’t quite place…desperation? She pulls on his arm. “Could you please walk me back?” Her voice is sad and small. He nods, wrapping his arm around her waist and pulling her with him towards the hotel. They quietly amble back to her room, Rae tucked safely into his side.

They arrive at her room too soon, leaving Rae craving for his warmth before they’re even parted. She doesn’t understand this. It must be the adrenaline. Just 4 hours earlier she was calling him a prick. Was this because he saved her? “Finn, would you…uh…?” She’s cut off by Finns lips on hers. His lips are soft yet demanding. He sucks her bottom lip between his. Before she realizes it, she’s kissing him back, her hands wrapped around his neck as he presses her into the door. She plays with the soft hairs at the nape of his neck, pulling them roughly when he toys with her bottom lip with his teeth. She has to force herself to pull away from him, from his beautiful full lips. It’s not fair for a man this infuriating to have such kissable lips. He pouts at her and she wonders if he even knows he’s doing it.

She turns towards the door, wrestling her key out of her purse. She can feel him brushing her hair to the side. He’s ghosting open-mouthed kisses down the back of her neck, his arm wrapping firmly around her waist, her bottom pressed back against his erection. “I can’t get it in with you doing that,” her breath hitches when he cups her left breast, stroking her hardening nipple through the flimsy fabric of her dress.

“Oh, we won’t have a problem getting it in,” he chuckles against her ear, biting her earlobe before grabbing the key from her shaking hand and letting them in. His hands are snaking up the front of her dress before the door is closed behind them. His hands are rough. Rae doesn’t expect that. She aches for them to touch her anywhere, everywhere. When his hand slides up her inner thigh and up to test the wetness between her thighs she has to brace herself against the closet door, restrain herself from having her wicked way with him right then. His fingers dip below the cotton of her knickers causing her hips to thrust forward involuntarily. If only she had worn a sexier pair.

“My aren’t we eager, Mae?” he mocks her, nipping just below her ear. He doesn’t keep her waiting long, his thumb moves to stroke her clit, his middle and ring fingers slip inside of her. Rae can’t bite back the moan that escapes her traitorous lips when his fingers begin to rock into her. While he works her into a frenzy, the nimble fingers of his left hand make haste with the fabric of her dress. His fingers slide beneath the lace of her bra, expertly rolling her nipple between his fingers. While he places wet kisses across her shoulder Rae reaches behind her, her hand finding his belt. His grunt against her shoulder eggs her on, her hand moving to cup his erection through his jeans.

“Now Finn,” she’s surprised by her own voice, low and sultry.

He doesn’t need further prodding. He turns her to face him, walks her back towards the bed. His eyes are heavy lidded and dark. Lust pools in her belly as he slides the straps of her dress from her shoulders. A flick of his wrist at the back of her dress leaves it laying at her feet. His eyes are worshiping her body as he disrobes, first his shirt and his jeans joining soon after. The way he looks at her makes her feel like a goddess. Her breath catches in her throat when he pulls his hard cock from his boxer briefs. She had been mistaken. She mistook his well deserved confidence and prickish behavior as him overcompensating. She was dead wrong.

She quickly unhooks her bra, letting it fall from her shoulders. She peels her knickers down her legs, watching him watch her. She loves the way his eyes open wider every time she exposes a new piece of flesh. As soon as they’re both naked he steps forward and pushes her back against the bed. She lays back, her upper body resting on her elbows while she watches him crawl towards her. God he’s beautiful. His eyes rake over her body and a light pink hue covers her chest, neck and cheeks. His hands push her thighs apart and he positions himself between them. His hungry gaze is both welcome and unnerving. “Ready?” he asks. She nods.

With one hand twisted in her hair and the other grasping at her hip, Finn has no free hands. Rae reaches down and guides his cock to her opening. His full lips are damp and parted and she needs to kiss him. She quickly pulls his mouth to hers as he thrusts forward, their moans are muffled by tongues gliding over one another. Their kisses are sloppy as they try to find their rhythm. She feels like she’s 17 again and losing her virginity. When his hips dip hers retract and they’re trapped in an unsatisfying dance.

“Mae, can you relax for two fucking minutes?” He’s frustrated, she can tell. He grabs her hips roughly, forcing her hips to lift as he dips. “Feel good, girl?” He continues to guide her hips against him until she’s doing it on her own.

She wants to smack the stupid smirk off his lovely face, if only his current ministrations didn’t feel so bloody wonderful. “S'alright.” She shrugs.

His hand moves to her ankle, picking her leg up and placing it on his shoulder. He picks up the pace. Her delighted whimpers must tell him she likes it because he thrusts into her brutally. She can’t help but dig her fingernails into his back, satisfied by the groans it causes. He’s close, she can tell. His eyes are clamped shut, his thrusts becoming erratic.

She reaches one hand between their bodies, but it’s slapped away by him, his own replacing hers on the path to her clit. Five full circles of her clit with his forefinger and middle finger and her body is quaking. “Come for me, girl.” His eyes are open, watching her, his hips still thrusting into her. Her moans are quieted by his lips, as he soon too finds his release. Both entirely too satiated and tired to move very far, pull apart, slumping back against the bed. She can feel his need to say something, but she’s not sure she wants to hear it.

“Mae…” he whispers. She keeps her eyes shut. She hears him sigh, but mostly she feels the loss of his warmth when he rolls to his side facing away from her.


“What are we doing, Finn?” she asks. She can see the muscles of his abdomen contract as he stretches his arms above his head. He doesn’t move to cover up his nudity. After 5 weeks of secret rendezvous they are way past modesty. He looks down at her sitting on the freshly rumpled sheets of his bed. She’s trying to tie her hiking boot, but she’s too distracted by his state of undress.

He pulls a pair of boxer briefs on, tucking his semi-erect cock into the band. He’s always ready whenever Rae is around, even after their trysts. “I don’t know, Rae. Why do we have to label it. Why can’t we just be?” he answers her question with his own. She sees his lip curl up. He loves riling her up and she knows it. She stands up from the bed, stalking towards the door. He’s too quick. His arms catch her around the middle, pulling her back against his chest.

“Oh no no no,” she scolds him, trying to pull free. Her protests end abruptly when she feels his tongue trace the shell of her ear. A knock on his door clears her mind enough to pull away from him while he’s distracted.

“Finn, come on we’re going to be late,” Izzy’s voice calls from the hall.

Finn springs into action. “Shit shit shit,” he mutters under his breath, pulling a t-shirt over his head and some gym shorts on. “Give me 5 minutes, Iz. I’ll get Rae and meet you in the lobby,” he calls out. Rae can hear Izzy huff behind the door, stomping her feet as she walks down the hall. She looks at Finn questioningly. She couldn’t remember if they had plans today.

Trainers still untied, Finn grabs Rae’s hand and pulls her to the door. “The camp, Rae. We’re bringing supplies today.” He’s grinning. He looks like a little boy whose just found out he has tickets to watch his favorite football team. Rae stops, causing Finn to jerk backwards. “Wha?”

Rae turns to him, motioning to her skirt and vest top.

“You’ll be fine,” he assures her. “I’ll do your heavy lifting for you.” He winks. She glares at him before he surprises her with a quick kiss to the side of her mouth. “Come on, Izzy may be small, but she’s pure evil when you’re late.” He ushers her out of the room.

The drive to the refugee camp is unbearably hot, all 6 of them jammed into the bed of a truck. Two metal benches line either side of the bed, a tan canvas the only thing protecting the friends from the sun. Rae is stuck between Archie and Finn and their body heat combined with the stifling air is making her nauseous. Archie’s ramblings about the agreement with SLA falling through cause Rae to stiffen. Her hand moves to clutch her stomach. Nothing about this assignment is what she thought it would be. Her boss is frustrated with the lack of common ground between the government and SLA and takes his frustration out on Rae. She feels like she isn’t doing anything remotely helpful here. She’s either trapped in a conference room with Archie or in Finn’s arms in the thralls of passion.

She can feel Finn’s finger tracing across her lower back, just out of sight from the others. “You OK?” She turns to him, his eyes are cast down and his bottom lip is caught between his teeth.

Rae slips her hand behind Finn’s back, scanning the others’ faces to see that they don’t notice. His lower back is slick with sweat. She pushes his t-shirt up, tracing her answer across his back. “Yes.”

“We’re here,” Izzy announces as the truck stops.

Rae pulls back the canvas, allowing herself to glance over the camp before getting out. The first things she notices is the smell, a mixture of toilet, sickness and something she doesn’t recognize. Does hopelessness have a smell? If it does, this is surely it. The landscape surrounding the camp is barren, nothing more than a hand pump for water sticks out from the dirt. Rae surmises that the well is contaminated below, collecting feces that has no doubt seeped through. The convoy has brought a large amount of water for the camp. The camp itself is surrounded by sharp wire fencing. One has to wonder if the fence is there to keep the bad guys out or the suffering in. Twenty or so tiny faces are pressed against the fence, their dirt smudged faces appraising the outsiders.

“Come on Rae. Grab that bag by your feet and follow me,” Izzy interrupts Rae’s silent musings.

The smell inside the camp is stronger. Rae clutches the bag to her chest, following Izzy and Chloe. Little fingers grasp at Rae’s shirt as she passes. She reaches into her pocket to grab a handful of bubblegum, handing it to the children. She wishes she had something of sustenance for their bloated bellies. The children cheer and run off with their prizes.

Rae enters a large tent, it’s stuffed full of small cots, the mattresses graying from the accumulation of dirt and sweat. Izzy stops, dropping her bag and motions for Rae to do the same. A man greets Izzy, wrapping her in his arms. Rae is introduced to the man, Matthew.

“The kids like to call me Dr. Matt, but Matthew suits me just fine,” he tells her.

Rae sweeps her eyes over the doctor, his torn t-shirt is decorated with sweat stains, his cargo shorts caked with the grayish dirt of the camp, tatty old trainers encasing his feet. She smiles at him. “Rae is fine. Nice to meet you.” His returned smile is bright, but Rae notices that the smile doesn’t reach his eyes, which appear tired and defeated.

“Lily could really use some company,” he points to a young girl curled up on her cot. “She’s been calling out for her mother all morning.”

“Where is her mother?” Rae asks. The look in Matthew’s eyes tell her the answer.

Rae cautiously approaches the girl, secretly hoping that she’s sleeping. She isn’t. She’s curled up, but her eyes are open and facing the back of the tent. When Lily hears Rae approach, she looks up at her. Her eyes are dark, bloodshot and swollen. Rae is all too familiar with this appearance. This girl has been crying. “Hello, Lily,” Rae whispers, sitting at the edge of the cot. Lily sits up to face Rae, a sad smile on her lips. “I’m sorry about your mum, Lily.” Rae reaches out for Lily’s hand clasping it between her own.

Lily’s head drops, her eyes brimming with fresh tears. Rae moves forward to wrap the girl in her arms, but Lily stiffens. Her hand pulls from between Rae’s. She points to Rae’s leg. Rae looks down to see what the girl is pointing at. She hadn’t noticed her skirt had ridden up, exposing the scars on her thighs. Rae nods. Lily moves to lift the side of her t-shirt, her eyes on Rae. Angry gashes mar the skin on the girl’s side. Rae’s hand darts to her mouth, the nausea overtaking her again. These wounds unlike Rae’s were not self-inflicted. She pulls Lily towards her, wrapping the young girl in her arms. The two cry while Rae whispers words of encouragement and love into the girl’s hair. “You are brave. You are smart. You are beautiful. You are strong. You are perfect.” She knows the girl can’t understand her, but she continues. “This does not define you.” Rae sits with Lily for over an hour, consoling the girl until she falls asleep.

“Your friends are leaving, Rae.” Matthew is beside her.

Rae slowly disentangles herself from Lily. “Will she be OK?” she asks Matthew.

“She is strong, she is a fighter,” is his response, his voice eerily quiet as they both watch the girl sleep.

Rae somehow finds her way back to the truck, her heart aching for the little girl. She stops to see Archie, Chop and Finn running down a small clear area in the camp. They’re playing football with a group of a dozen kids, all cheering when Finn shoots a goal passed Chop. They flock him, all grabbing at his legs. He’s jumping up and down, a silly grin plastered on his face as he hoists a smaller boy into the air. Rae smiles. The boy is chuckling when Finn places him back on the ground. The children bid the men farewell, watching sadly as they make their way to the truck.

They greet Chloe, Izzy and Rae with sloppy sweaty kisses on the cheek. Finn’s barely grazes the corner of Rae’s mouth. The journey home is somber. Izzy falls asleep against Chop’s chest, his arms wrapped around her. Chloe and Archie are speaking in hushed voices, it sounds a bit like an argument. Finn’s legs and side are pressed into Rae’s, his fingers of his left hand trailing across her lower back. Rae breaks the silence. “You were right, Finn. We aren’t helping them.” Finn turns his head towards her. She continues. “What amount of money or reparations is going to give back what they’ve had taken from them?” It’s a rhetorical question. She shifts to turn to him, her thighs sticking to the metal bench uncomfortably. “They’ve lost everything and…” Rae’s bottom lip quivers. Finn pulls her to him, his arms encircling her. He lets her cry. She cries for Lily, who has to grow up too soon. She cries for Matthew, who remains resilient in the face of unspeakable horror. She cries for all the people of Darfur, all faced with impassable obstacles.

“Rae,” Finn calls her name softly. If anyone can help them, it’s you.“ She lifts her head to look at him. He brushes the tears from her face with his thumbs. "You Rae, you’re strong. You just haven’t realized it yet.” He tucks a piece of hair behind her ear. She doesn’t care that their friends are probably watching when he presses a kiss to her lips. “Rae, I know you might not feel the same way, but,” he presses a finger to her lips to prevent her from speaking. “I know I was a prick when we first met, but I didn’t know you. I didn’t know you were good. I didn’t know you were sound.” He takes a deep breath, his hand rubbing at the back of his neck. “I fancy you, Mae. Like proper fancy you.” His eyes are wide, searching her face.

She pulls his face to hers, letting her lips do the talking for her. She feels his hesitancy. She doesn’t know if that was enough affirmation for him. She begrudgingly removes her lips from his to whisper against them. “I fancy the pants off you, Finn Nelson.”

The hopelessness gets to you, it tears you down, it makes you question yourself, but if you let it, it changes you, makes you braver, makes you stronger. She’d be strong for Lily, for Matthew, for her friends, for justice, and for the people of Darfur.

















I didn’t mention contraception and I should have. Always use contraception!

May 22, 1916 - Battle of Beringia in the Sudan

Pictured - Egyptian Maxim guns cut swathes into the Fur warriors.

The British Empire was a sprawling hodge-podge of territories, mandates, protectorates, and vassal states amassed over the course of the 19th Century; the First World War provided an opportunity for some of the rowdier ones to try and re-assert independence or flare back up old grudges.  Before the war, Egypt had been a Khedivate of the Ottoman Empire, though in name only.  In reality, the British called the shots in Cairo after occupying the Suez Canal and Alexandria in the 1880s, after which they had fought a bloody war in Egypt’s territory of Sudan against the Mahdists, an anti-Egyptian jihadist army.  Lord Kitchener made his name defeating the Madhi’s army and re-establishing Sudan as a stable Egyptian tributary.

In 1914 the British officially broke off Egypt’s connection with Turkey.  However, the Sultan of Darfur in the Sudan began edging closer to the Ottomans and refusing to pay money to the Sudanese government, who needed to pay Egypt, who needed to pay England.  Thus, in May 1916, a 2,000-man Anglo-Egyptian Army marched on Darfur, where they confronted the rebel army of Darfur, composed of tribal Fur warriors. 

In a repeat of the tactics of the 1880s, the Anglo-Egyptians formed square, using their superior firepower to mow down charging Sudanese attackers.  The rebellion was crushed and the Sultan of Darfur fled into the Jibal mountains with a few hundred hold-outs, but he was killed in November and the remnants of his rebellion eventually blotted out.

Photo by Yann Libessart/MSF

About 75,000 refugees sought shelter in a camp near Yida, in South Sudan, after fighting broke out between the Sudanese government and rebel forces. Roughly three-quarters of the camp’s refugees were women and children. Life in Yida camp was extremely difficult at that time. Food was scarce and sanitation was lacking. When the rains came, the camp grew muddy and hard to resupply. Safe drinking water was limited, which increased the risk of illness.


Ambushed Four Times in South Sudan 

The day had begun well for the forces of the South Sudanese government. Two battalions of fresh infantry had been sent up the Nile by barge to the forward base, some 12 miles south of the heavily contested town of Bor. They’d jogged there in formation, singing war chants, before eventually gathering in the center of the camp to listen to a rousing speech from the general in command.

When he’d finished speaking, they waved their Kalashnikovs in the air and made battle cries before jogging back to the barges waiting to send them upstream to war. “We’ll have dinner in Bor,” the general assured me and my photographer. “You will see, then we will send you back to Juba by helicopter to show the world what we have done.” Mark, our driver, was less keen for the onslaught to begin. He’d spent the morning swigging from a liter bottle of gin, and when the signal came to move forward, it was with reluctance that he turned the key in the ignition. “I’ve only been a soldier two weeks, you know,” he said as we trundled off to join the convoy. “In my real life, I’m a journalist. But when the war started they gave me a uniform and made me join the army. These rebels are killing all my people, we have to fight them. But it’s not so bad. My uncle, there, two cars ahead of us, he is a general, the most popular general in the whole army. He is the only general who leads from the front.” His uncle wasn’t the general in command. Between us, a Land Cruiser packed with the general’s retinue jostled its away along the pitted road, his personal plastic garden chair and washing tub clattering against its bumper.


#325 Because of illegal trousers in Sudan.

InSudan, Article 152 of the Memorandum to the 1991 Penal Code prohibits the wearing of “obscene outfits” in public.

In Sudan, trousers are considered obscene outfits.

So in July 2009 thirteen women were arrested in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum for wearing trousers. Ten of the women immediately pleaded guilty and were flogged with ten lashes and fined 250 Sudanese pounds each. The three other women, one of them being UN journalist Lubna al-Hussein, pleaded not guilty. In order to attract attention to the situation of Sudanese women, Hussein used her own case as a public platform to fight Article 152 and sent invitations to the public and the press to attend her flogging. Hussein considers herself a good Muslim and says that it “is not about religion, it is about men treating women badly.

“Islam does not say whether a woman can wear trousers or not. I’m not afraid of being flogged. It doesn’t hurt. But it is insulting.”

Because of protests, media attention and the official statements of human rights organisations, Hussein was found guilty, but was not sentenced to flogging. Instead, she had to pay a fine of 500 Sudanese pounds. Amnesty International have called on the Sudanese government to repeal Article 152. They have so far not made any efforts to amend the law.