Water, camels and Allah --- for hundreds of years, these have been the vital elements in the life of the Touareg, the Sahara's nomadic "blue men".
GV ZOOM IN MV Desert and Touaregs with camels.
SV Touaregs standing outside tents.
SV And MV Touaregs pull water out of well. (2 shots)
CU TILT DOWN Young Touaregs.
GV's and MV's Touaregs with goat herd. (3 shots)
CU Touareg women (3 shots)
MV Grain handed out and women waiting with bowls. (3 shots)
MV's Government official inspects Touareg camp.
MV's Touaregs at grain distribution centre. (2 shots)
CU AND MV Touareg waters vegetable plot. (2 shots)
GV Touaregs wandering through farm land.
Initials ??? VS 20.30
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Background: Water, camels and Allah --- for hundreds of years, these have been the vital elements in the life of the Touareg, the Sahara's nomadic "blue men".
But seven years of drought in the Sahelian belt has thinned their numbers by the thousands, killed off most of their livestock and forced them to settle down -- huddled in poverty waiting for hand-outs of food.
Settling down is for the Touareg a fate almost worse than death. For hundreds of years they were a feared race, roaming the desert, raiding neighbouring tribes for food and slaves, taxing travellers, and forcing other tribes to pay for "protection".
With more than eighty per cent of their cattle dead, the Touaregs had to turn to the governments of Algeria, Niger, Mali and Nigeria for help. But their marauding past did not make them popular subjects for charity.
Camp Lazareth, just outside the Niger capital, Niamey, is a sad reminder of the fate of the Touaregs. Fifteen thousand of them have gathered there, living a hand-to-mouth existence.
The camp is run by the Roman Catholiosin Niamey and clearly demonstrates how thinly international aid in the Sahel has had to be spread. There are two wells for the entire camp and there is no sanitation. The people live in make-shift huts and tents, waiting for the once-weekly supply of meal and corn. There is little for them to do, since any attempt to grow food is almost futile.
And then there is the cemetery. At least 3,000 bodies are buried there, and the number grows each week.
For the Touaregs who fled from neighbouring Mali, arriving with nothing but their clothes after a month's walk, Camp Lazareth offers dome hope.
But it's an agonising time for the once-proud race. Without rain and camels, all they have left to rely on is Allah.
SYNOPSIS: For hundreds of years, water, camels and Allah have been the vital elements in the life of the touaregs -- the nomadic "blue men" of the sahara. But seven years of drought in the Sahelian belt have thineed their numbers, killed their livestock and forced them to settle down in poverty.
Fifteen thousand Touaregs have gathered in a camp just outside the Niger capital, Niamey. Many of them came from Mali. They had nothing but their clothing after a month's walk across the desert. Their cattle are dead and their wealth consists of a small goat herd.
Camp Lazareth is run by a Roman Catholic Mission in Niamey. It shows clearly how thinly international drought aid has had to be spread. The Touaregs rely for food on meal and corn distributed once a week. The signs of starvation are in every face.
There are two wells for the entire camp and there is no sanitation. The Touaregs live in make-shift huts and tents, waiting for their weekly hand-outs of food. A nearby cemetery holds the bodies of more than three thousand drought victims.
There's little for the Touaregs to do. Some try to grow food. But water is so scarce that most attempts are futile. It's an agonising time for the once proud nomads of the Sahara.