He fled over the border from Sudan’s western Darfur region in 2004, a year after the armed forces and their allies, the Janjaweed horseback militia, began their murderous assault on non-Arab people.
Taking reprisals against rebels fighting Omar al-Bashir’s Arab-dominated government, they raped, tortured and massacred civilians, razed their villages and poisoned their wells across arid territory the size of France.
Abdallah was 14 when he arrived in Chad.
Today he is 29 and still living in the Treguine refugee camp, one of 12 sites for 340,123 registered Sudanese jointly run by the United Nations and Chadian authorities.
The young Darfuri has only hazy memories of events that claimed at least 300,000 lives in violence, hunger and disease, according to UN figures.
“Gunshots, people on horses and camels,” he recalled, unable to go on.
– ‘Crises blow over, refugees stay’ –
In shimmering heat, the camp for some 25,000 people at Treguine buzzed with activity. Health centers are functioning, schools are open and tents are gradually being replaced by houses crafted from any available materials.
The visit preceded the April 11 ouster of President Bashir, whose regime long battled a mixed bag of rebel groups in Darfur.
Three rounds of peace talks between 2006 and 2011 were inconclusive, with agreements torn apart by discord among signatories. Since 2012-13, Darfur has endured ongoing low-level conflict.
International donors have pledged more than $3.5 billion (3.1 billion euros) to help rebuild the region, but nothing substantial can be done while clashes go on and until the military regime that replaced Bashir spells out its intentions.
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