Children's Voices from Darfur

In February 2005, Human Rights Watch sent
researchers Dr. Annie Sparrow and Olivier Bercault to Chad
to talk with refugees who'd fled from the bombings and Janjawid militia attacks in Darfur. A pediatrician, Dr. Sparrow usually gives crayons and paper to children to entertain them while she interviews their parents. When she gave crayons to children who've fled Darfur, the results
were harrowing and powerful

Without prompting, the children drew scenes of horse-mounted
militiamen riding into villages, large airplanes dropping bombs, and
gun-wielding men raping women. The children's drawings are a visual
record of the atrocities committed in Darfur that aren't available
through any other medium. Human rights workers have received extensive
testimony about bombing of villages and rape as a weapon, but these
drawings provide visual evidence that international media
organizations have not been able to provide, as they've been blocked
by the Sudanese government from travelling in Darfur.

Realizing the importance of these drawings, Sparrow and Bercault
started collecting school notebooks from children in refugee camps.
They found in many of them that class notes suddenly gave way to
sketches of battlefield scenes, burning huts and the destruction of
villages. The two began interviewing children about their drawings:

Leila, Age 9
Human Rights Watch: What is going on here?
Leila: My hut burning after being hit by a bomb.
Human Rights Watch: And here? [Pointing to the drawing of what looks
like an upside-down woman]
Leila: It's a woman. She is dead.
Human Rights Watch: Why is her face colored in red?
Leila: Oh, because she has been shot in the face.
Human Rights Watch: What is this vehicle? Who is this in green?
Leila: That is a tank. The man in green is a soldier.

The researchers brought hundreds of drawings back to their offices.
When I was at Human Rights Watch a week ago, there was a pile of these
sketches on a conference room table, along side a pile of photographs
from Janjawid militamen. What amazed me was how details in the
children's drawings echoed details from the photos – the stocks of the
automatic rifles, the round shape of the houses, the posture of two
gunmen riding on horseback. It was immediately clear to me that these
drawings weren't of weapons imagined by children, but eye witness

The New York Times will be running some of these pictures in their
Sunday magazine, and German television will be featuring the images on
a broadcast this weekend. Perhaps these images will help the world pay
attention to the ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity taking
place in Darfur and the refugee camps in Chad.

For more information:
HRW's gallery of Darfur drawings
Articles from Human Rights Watch on Darfur
Passion of the Present – Online activists working to bring attention to the
crisis in Darfur


  • Sudan in children’s drawings

    As they waited for their parents to be interviewed by Human Rights Watch, refugee children drew pictures with crayons on paper. When the aid workers saw the images, they began to collect them and have now published them online

  • […] by Physicians for Human Rights. (via Jewels in the Jungle) Combine this with the Sudanese childrens’ pictures released on Friday by Human Rights Watch and reflect on […]

  • […] Sudan Watch points us to a powerful flash video on the genocide in Sudan by Physicians for Human Rights. (via Jewels in the Jungle) Combine this with the Sudanese childrens’ pictures released on Friday by Human Rights Watch and reflect on the fate of your fellow human beings. […]

  • London, Monday 5th of September 2005


    EMI Releases ‘Voices for Darfur’ DVD with the UN refugee agency
    for the people of Darfur

    LONDON / GENEVA, Sept.5 – International artists are fronting a release today by EMI of a new DVD, “Voices for Darfur” in support of the United Nations refugee agency’s work to bring assistance and protection to the victims of the ongoing tragedy in Sudan’s western region. The DVD is released in the UK on Monday 5 September, followed by other European countries, Australia, Japan and the USA.

    Among the artists featuring on the DVD are Sade, David Gray and Franz Ferdinand who contributed special tracks for the recording. The stars of the concert were Yusuf Islam, Chrissie Hynde, Mick Hucknall and Antony Costa from Blue, as well as a host of other artists who performed live at the Royal Albert Hall in London last December to help the Darfur refugees.

    Nine months later, the release of the DVD of the concert by the UN refugee agency and EMI is still sadly relevant, with the tragedy continuing to take its tolls on the lives of millions. “I so hope this will once more show that music has the power to make a difference and save lives,” said Antony Costa, “that this will be a gift with a very special meaning”. All proceeds from the DVD will go to help the displaced and refugees in Sudan and Chad.

    The line up on the night included, Nicole Russo from the Brand New Heavies, Moloko singer Roisin Murphy, Alison Moyet, UNHCR’s longest serving Goodwill Ambassador soprano Barbara Hendricks, Ruthie Henshall, Sir Willard White, Mario Frangoulis and Deborah Myers, Jocelyn Brown and Robbie Craig, Andrew Coleman, Daniel Pearce and The London Community Gospel Choir.

    Smooth FM’s Kevin Greening hosted the evening, which was filmed for TV and the DVD by Initial, an Endemol company. Music producer and patron of the event, Robin Millar from Whitfield Street Studios, collaborated closely with UNHCR in creating an exceptional night.

    Most of the artists performed the music of Cole Porter in their own varied styles and were accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. British band Franz Ferdinand provided a song for the night and donated half their Mercury Music prize money, while Coldplay also donated a substantial sum of money.

    Since the concert Sade has recorded her first new track in four years, ‘Mum’, written especially for the DVD. The video of the track includes footage from Darfur. David Gray, who had to cancel his performance due to voice problems, recorded ‘Ain’t No Love’ for the DVD a few weeks after the event.
    All the artists gave generously of their time, talent, and often money to raise awareness of the situation in the strife-torn region of Darfur, which remains extremely volatile. Over 200,000 Sudanese refugees are currently in exile in neighboring Chad and almost two million internally displaced people are living in dire conditions inside Darfur. They desperately need more help, protection and above all peace and security. As talks restart in Abuja, Nigeria, between the Sudanese government and the two Darfur rebel movements, increased support by the international community for the Darfur negotiations could open new doors for a peace deal and eventually a return home for the refugees.
    The DVD ‘Voices for Darfur’ (EMI Catalogue Marketing – catalogue number 544 7399) will be in the stores in the UK on the 5th of September 2005, followed by releases throughout Europe, Australia, the USA and Japan.

    EMI is the world’s largest independent music company, operating directly in 50 countries. Its EMI Music division represents more than 1,000 artists spanning all musical tastes and genres. Its record labels include Angel, Blue Note, Capitol, EMI Records, EMI Classics, Mute, Virgin and Parlophone.
    Proceeds from the DVD will be used to provide international protection and life-saving assistance. For more information on the Darfur crisis and the UN Refugee Agency go to:

  • I find the whole idea of teaming up music and NGOs rather interesting… Voices for Darfur is an excellent example of how to make that work respectfully… another discussion is open on that matter, have a look at


  • Hi there, another blog with good information on Darfur:, come visit,



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