Monday, March 9, 2009

If ever there was a reason to do a shot

The workers for the NGOs who were kicked out have all been pouring into Nairobi in the past couple days. One woman, understandably drunk and raucous, saw the long long visa line (anyone who's ever flown into Nairobi knows what I mean) and shouted out "There should be a special line for people who have been PNG'd" (PNG means persona non grata, kicked out of a country) and god bless the Kenyans, they did it. Gave all these poor lost souls a dedicated "people who have been screwed over" line, one little act of kindness for a group who have been pretty brutalized over the past few days.

It is hard to explain how awful it is to be taken out of your field site suddenly, be it from evacuation, getting kicked out, arrested, whatever. I've been talking to a number of friends who were among those forced to leave, they are all in states of shock and denial.

Some are fixating on little aspects of their program they left unfinished ("I had a carton of condoms I was about to deliver to the clinic, I wonder if they'll do it," not really realising the clinic itself will most likely not be functioning).

Some are obsessed with their staff, the fact that they weren't able to say goodbye, that they may now be in danger or a target to the government or just simply that there will now be thousands of unemployed, well educated and trained Darfuri national staff who will all be looking for jobs at the same time meaning many wonderful staff will be out of work in a place which is already on a knife's edge.

Some, understandably, are freaked out because around 300 expats (I think I heard) are now out of work. All highly skilled and field experienced. All will now be looking for work at the same time. And the Global-Economic-Crisis (tm) affects the humanitarian aid industry the same way it affects everyone else. It will be a debacle to try and find a job for the next few months.

Overall, speaking to everyone I just get such a sense of chaos and fear and loss and powerlessness. Imagine that huge, tight knit mass of humanity all working towards the same, or at least a similar, goal suddenly wrenched away and rudderless.

There's gonna be a LOT of drinkin going on in Nairobi in the next few days. A LOT.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Just a quick one, about how much I've enjoyed your posts - continuing to link back when possible from Humanitarian Relief (

All the best,