February 5th, 2008 5:33 pm | by Shefali Kulkarni News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics, Politics

UPDATE: Local Activist Escapes Rebel Fighting in Chad

Katie-Jay Scott and co-worker Gabriel

Military convoy escorting humanitarian workers and hotel guests

Today, Portland activist Katie-Jay Scott is updating her blog and uploading videos from Libreville, Gabon while waiting for a flight to Paris. The 26-year-old Stop Genocide Now team member was evacuated from N'djamena, Chad earlier this week by the French military. The capital city has turned violent as rebels attempt to force President Idriss Déby from power.

Scott, along with her team members, were staying at the Le Meridian Hotel—a central point between the Presidential Palace and the airport where rebel forces were aiming to take control. The hotel suffered heavy, direct gunfire but was safeguarded by French military reported no injuries.

In an email to WW, Scott writes, “Thank God there were French soldiers at the hotel when we came under fire. If they hadn't been there, the hotel would have been entered.” Scott and her team were on the third floor when the hotel came under attack. She was staying in room 107, a few doors down from a room that was so riddled with bullets they created a hole “the size of a small watermelon.” She writes that at one point, “bullets were going over our heads,” but they were able to safely make it to the kitchen.

“I am eternally grateful for the 8 or so French soldiers that guarded us like their family," Scott writes. "Their presence seemed like that of 30 men.”

Scott was in eastern Chad for the last three weeks recording and blogging for the Stop Genocide Now website. The California-based organization aims to connect communities in Darfur with communities across the United States. Scott was supposed to leave on Feb. 1. In a Jan. 30 phone conversation with WW, Scott mentioned minor outbursts by rebel forces.

“We didn't think it would get this bad at all," she says. "We didn't even think we were going to need to be evacuated until the morning before the attack on the hotel.” Her team is told that they have two days in Gabon until their flight to Paris. Below is a video of Stop Genocide Now team members at the Le Meridian Hotel in Chad. More photos, blog posts, and updates can be found on Stop Genocide Now's website.

[youtube 8ZuEoFM6-5I]
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