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Darfur diary: Things are getting worse

  • Story Highlights
  • Aid agencies warn of worsening situation in Darfur
  • Reports of U.N. troops struggling to keep peace
  • CNN team heads out on flight to northern Darfur
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By CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson
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(CNN) -- Over the next few days, as we waited for the government to decide whether or not to let us into Darfur, we did the rounds of aid agencies -- UNHCR, WFP, OCHA.

Cameraman Scot McWhinnie and Nic Robertson film Khartoum from the Nile.

From what they were saying, the situation there was worse than ever.

They helped us plan what to do when we got there, but we still didn't have the necessary permission. I was worried.

The time passed a little better when I unexpectedly bumped in to an old friend at one of the capital rare oases of western food, the up-market Ozone cafe.

I'd first met him in Sarajevo in 1993. He'd escaped a Bosnian Serb prison camp, was as thin as a rail and since then has worked on many of the worlds big humanitarian projects including the Yugoslav war crimes Tribunal in The Hague, Afghanistan and Iraq.

When he talks, I listen.

Darfur Diary

He confirmed everything we'd heard from the aid agencies, but worse.

He told me the peacekeepers sent to help out were failing. More than ever, we needed to get there and see for ourselves.

The next day Mai had good news. Our permission had come through. Sarah quickly booked the flights.

We'd have to fly commercial, instead of hitching a ride on a U.N. charter. Nobody at the U.N. flies commercial in Sudan, the flight safety record is not the best.

But we didn't have days to waste waiting for a U.N. flight.

Our papers had come through faster than anyone had ever heard of before.

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Still, the angst wasn't over. We'd be going to Al Fasher in North Darfur, but when we got there we'd need to start the process again. Get local permission to film and travel around.

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From past experience, I knew Sudan is a place where you can never be certain you'll actually get where you are trying to go, or be able to do what you want if you do finally get there.

As we took off from Khartoum, I had no idea just how true it would be again.

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