5 days in the life of ... Caroline Cox

The Baroness and president of Christian Solidarity Worldwide relieves the horror of a trip to Sudan by going bell-ringing

MONDAY: Having just returned from my 16th visit to Sudan, I spent all day writing a report; I also had an interview with the BBC World Service, as it's important to get the message back into Africa. They always say "We heard you, and we know we're not forgotten". Our small group of four flew out last week to a town called Wunrok: we have to go in and out like eels because the government told us they will shoot us out of the sky. I was disturbed on looking out of the plane window, because all you could see was devastation and burning. When we touched down, it was virtually deserted. Everyone was hiding in the swamps and the bush, because there had just been a raid, and there were bodies everywhere. It's normally a busy, thriving market town, but we were told that up to 2,000 government soldiers had galloped up with machine guns, and started to mow down civilians. The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) came too late to stop it.

TUESDAY: Carried on with the report: it's important to get it on the record. That's when I broke - the detail and horror all become almost worse from a distance. We try to be a voice for those who have no voice, although it wasn't until we got there that we saw how great the need is, and it was a big shock. The government in Khartoum has just passed sentence on me: I think the formal charge is illegal entry, but my answer is that if they didn't have no-go areas, I wouldn't enter illegally. These people are desperate, and it was the worst I have ever seen. We were told by pilots they could fly for 60 miles and still find burnt lands and remains of normal life. The twist is that this was not one of the famine areas: there should be herds of healthy cattle, but it's just desolation. People who survived have fled to the swamps - between 30,000 and 40,000 - and we have tried to arrange for a 1,000 family-sized mosquito nets for them because it's high malaria country.

WEDNESDAY: Finished the report at 4am and was up for a press conference at 10am. I do feel a sense of intense urgency. There is a two-week window of time to try and get them some help before the rainy season starts. It's a relief when people pick up the story with interest. Because we work in no-go areas, we put ourselves out of eligibility for main donor boards, but we need at least pounds 20,000 to help these people. Had a meeting with the Department for International Development today, but I think we are too unorthodox: still, we can try. Had a game of squash - my first bit of relaxing.

THURSDAY: Went down to speak to a Christian fellowship in Aldershot to talk about NGOs in conflict zones. In the evening, I went bell-ringing at a church in Stanmore. It's completely absorbing and friendly, and very restorative. I've also been in touch with all my family - I have seven grandchildren, aged from 10 to about six months. My children say "We would like you to see your grandchildren grow up. Please take care", which of course I do.

FRIDAY: Someone told me about Clare Short's remark that people find endless humanitarian appeals "unbearable". At the time, I was opening an envelope with a very generous donation from someone who had just read about Sudan. A lot of British people care about what goes on there; I find no sign whatever of compassion fatigue if people know what is really happening and that their donation is taken directly to people in need. They know we always take it there in person. You have got to keep people alive, and it's important to stop the regime in Khartoum creating famine by burning land and livestock. Where people are in dire need for survival, it's no good just building infrastructure.

Suggested Topics
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

    £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

    Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

    Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

    C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

    Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

    C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

    Day In a Page

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home