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Reporters on the Job

Narrow Window on Sudan: Staff writer Danna Harman says that reporting in western Sudan is hampered by the circumstances. Aid groups and journalists cannot travel freely. "I couldn't find a car or an interpreter to hire in Genina, where I was staying," she says. "And aid workers are limited by their own security men, who won't let them travel to regions deemed dangerous, and by the Sudanese government, which makes them get permits for everyplace they want to go and keeps track of where they are. Aid groups don't want to risk being thrown out of Sudan by traveling where they're not supposed to or looking at things outside their mandate."

Danna agrees there's justification for the security. Tuesday, UN officers searched for eight missing Sudanese aid workers. Sudanese officials said that the aid workers - three from the UN World Food Program and five from the Sudanese Red Crescent - had been kidnapped by antigovernment rebels.

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Danna notes that the Sudanese government is wary of everyone, and getting visa and travel permits to the region is not easy.

For today's story, Danna hitched a ride to the Sisi refugee camp (page 1) with Save the Children. "On the day of the trip you need to give all your travel documents to the local authorities and let them know where you will be going. Then, you get a travel permit. The Save the Children workers went to assess their protection projects," she says.

While there, she interviewed a doctor who said that if she drove him some 15 miles back to the village of Nur, he could show her the destruction caused by the Janjaweed. "Normally, I would have gone, if only to confirm the veracity of his story. But I was dependent upon my hosts for transportation, and the aid workers didn't think it was worth the risk to go somewhere the government hadn't given them permission to see. I understand that makes it harder to get at the truth of what's happening here."

David Clark Scott
World editor