The Deserted

Photo: Sven Torfinn / Panos

“They don’t expect to go home soon,” says Dutch photographer Sven Torfinn of the thousands of Sudanese refugees crowded into Camp Mile, 50 kilometers inside the Chadian border. Over the past two years, 1 million people have fled the Darfur region of Sudan, driven out by Arab militias who have killed at least 10,000 in a campaign of ethnic cleansing, rape, and looting. “What we are seeing is a disaster, a catastrophe,” U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said when he visited the region in June, shortly after this photo was taken. He studiously avoided using the word “genocide” to describe a crisis expected to kill as many as 300,000 people, most by hunger or disease, by year’s end. “We can find the right label for it later,” said Powell. The young exile pictured here fled with her three children on foot, reaching a makeshift encampment in the Chadian border town of Tiné, before boarding a Red Cross truck that ferried them to a permanent camp. When Torfinn returned to Tiné two days later, other families had gathered, waiting.

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