Sunday, April 03, 2005

Emily Wax Honored

Emily Wax has been awarded the Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism for her coverage of Darfur. Eugene Oregon at Coalition for Darfur covers the story.

Courageous doesn't begin to describe Wax's work. She conveys the essence of the big story through the stories of ordinary people, telling us no more and no less than what we need to know, even if it hurts. And it does hurt. Wax's reporting from Sudan has often been singled out for praise (e.g. see Déjà Vu at the American Journalism Review and this interview from the Columbia Journalism Review). Among her most memorable stories in my mind:

A Family Torn by Sudan's Strife stands out as exemplary of her style and the best kind of journalism. It sheds light on the ethnic dimension of the conflict, and its tragic consequences.

BAHAI, Chad -- His gut was twisted into a knot, his head pounding, his leg searing in pain from a gunshot wound. Ibrahim Mohamed Doud, a village elder in an African tribe, remembers the day an Arab militia known as the Janjaweed attacked his village.

He had been hit in the left leg. His two wives knelt by his side to soothe him as he twitched in the burning sand. But in his moment of agony, he recalled that his deepest concern was not about the wound, but about one of his wives. Aisha Haroon Mohamed, 29, his Arab wife with the almond-colored eyes, is from the same ethnic group as the attackers. Her uncle was a Janjaweed commander.

Doud begged her to flee. He was fearful that African villagers would turn against Aisha. She stood frozen, her eyes watering with tears. She refused to leave his side. In the end, they all escaped, fleeing the village in western Sudan's Darfur province in an arduous, month-long journey through the desert sands of the Sahara.

Today, Doud sits in a tent at the Oure Cassoni refugee camp here, 15 miles north of the Sudanese border. His two wives are safely at his side, but his anxiety from that day still runs deep. "I just kept shouting at her to leave. It hurt me to do that," he recalled of the day of the attack, in January. "At first, I confess, we were all scared of hatreds brewing."

"We were a family before all of this happened," he added. "Now what are we?"

posted by Fido the Yak at 7:48 AM.


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