The capital of West Darfur sits in very close proximity to the Chadian border as a result, there seems to be an interesting mix of people and smuggled goods readily available around the city. El Genina resembles more of a village that has rapidly grown into a town. The presence of UNAMID, government forces and militias are clear, somehow coexisting in a very fragile caldron. What once used to be the most peaceful city in Darfur has become the most unpredictable. You get the feeling that so much more is taking place just below the surface, but one is too afraid to peel back an inquire.
The landscape is intensely green due to the abundant rains. The wadis are overflowing with water and pastoralists can be seen herding their livestock on the outskirts of the town. Similar to El Fashir, IDP camps are scattered around the outskirts of the town. The situation in West Darfur is much more complex. Seeing the natural beauty of this area is somewhat saddening to see the instability. So much natural potential all of which cannot be harnessed due to movement and uncertainty. Movement after sundown is limited as is electricity. Due to continuous shortages in reserves, the power station is unable to function. For the most part, generators seem to be the most reliable source of power. The city’s power it turned on after sundown until about 1am after which everyone is under the mercy of darkness.
I felt much more tension in the air while in El Genina, I couldn’t attribute it to one thing in particular. Occasionally at night you would hear gunshots in the distance, the sounds were amplified by the stillness of the night and lack of electrical appliances to dull the noise. The mosquitoes around these parts are a force to be reckoned with. These bad boys can eat you alive, so my mosquito net became a very wise investment. Luckily the rains produced pleasant winds and breezes that made my stay a bit more enjoyable.