Jean Marie Stratigos spoke to four of us Model United Nations students about the refugee situation in relation to the Darfur conflict. The reason for having him speak to me about this topic is because he is a UNDP employee and has a special interest in the region. Just last summer he was in Africa working with refugee camps to make them more efficient and to decide what makes one more effective than the other. One interesting fact that was mentioned was the mere numbers of displaced persons in these camps. Pictures covering only acres of land held people in the tens of thousands. This is so shocking and to see the land that was once covered in trees now stripped of vegetation. The reason Jean Marie said this happens is because there is water in the trees and when they are cut down they can extract the water from the trunks of the trees.
This comes to the next part of the conversation when Jean Marie explained his search for a new refugee campsite. There was a choice between land with vegetation and land without vegetation. The dilemma is that if the camp is near the vegetation the refugees may tear down the plant life for any extra materials or form of sustenance to have. However, the land with more vegetation is also much more shaded and in the hot sun of Africa, over exhaustion is common. The conflict is clear and if I were an employee of the UN I would not know which decision to make. This is why I am glad there is UN officials putting their input into the region and trying to make an active difference.