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When war breaks out, a swarm of other industries quickly surrounds the battlefield; aid agencies, NGOs, international media corporations, mercenaries and private investors… all descend on the conflict like a second wave of invaders. Never was this more so than in 2004 when Darfur, in western Sudan, erupted into civil war. Accusations of government-sponsored ethnic cleansing and what the UN described as ‘the world’s worst humanitarian crisis’ combined to put this previously unheard-of region under the world’s spotlight. Yet, for all the influx of foreign agencies and outside interest, very little was (and still is) known about the causes of this conflict. Here, Michelle Green – a former aid worker in Darfur – re-tells the story of the war from 15 different perspectives, capturing by turns the brutal indifference of the government war machine, the terrible scars inflicted on individuals caught in its path, and the complex melting pot of experiences that constitutes any relief effort. Though fictional, these stories reach beyond the myths so often used to simplify this crisis and offer moving, first-hand insights into a tragedy that – like so many others – disappeared from our headlines all too quickly.
‘At a time when we claim we suffer from ‘compassion fatigue’ and we hope that clicking ‘yes’ on an online petition will effect actual change, Michelle Green’s stories about aid workers and refugees and war-torn, far-away places remind us that, yes, this matters, and yes, it is urgent, and yes, these stories are here to help us remember what it all means.’ – Kate Pullinger