Radda Barnen support a training centre in Aterieu, a small town south of Rumbek in southern Sudan. In December 2001 we were driving there in two vehicles along the hard-packed sand road. Part way into the journey we were stopped by soldiers; the SPLA were recruiting and we were travelling with men who might be needed for the army. Not at all, insisted Radda Barnen, these guys are students at the training centre. The men stood, hands aloft, whilst the soldiers did some searching and questioning. Training opportunities approach zero in southern Sudan and there was nothing remotely obvious about why the soldiers should allow those men to enjoy foreign resources whilst others were taken to the front. Assistance came into conflict with violence: it offered small chances to extremely few people, whereas mass mobilisation suggested a more radical shake-up. The situation by the side of the road was getting unsteady. Suddenly, ‘You see that white woman there?’, said one of the Sudanese staff, pointing me out to the soldiers, ‘she’s the Commander for the whole of Bahr el-Ghazal.’ It was not a moral truth, it was a gamble. Small tense pause; then the soldiers laughed, everyone jumped back in the vehicles and we drove quickly on.
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