Ibrahim Zakaria Sidick, 22
JEM soldier from Abu Sorog

I am here to protect the community here from the Janjaweed. They come here. Just yesterday they came and took all the animals. What we do is make a barrier at the frontier, then we wait in the mountains until the Janjaweed come to attack the population and then we put ourselves in between them and the community and we fight. Sometimes, they go to the market and take animals.

It is hard. The community is in a constant state of insecurity. They come and steal and attack, and the community has no protection. Then they flee, so we stay in the mountains.

Sometimes, we will get wounded. When that happens, we go to Birak ( Chad) for treatment. The Janjaweed take their wounded to Sudan, we go to Chad.

I am 22. Since the beginning of the war in 2003, I have been a soldier. I was in school before, but when the war began, the Janjaweed killed my parents and my brothers and they took all our animals, so I stopped school and joined the army.

Our objective here is to secure the community. I am not alone – there are many others, but they stay out surveying the fields where the animals are. Normally, the young soldiers go out into the fields, and the older ones stay behind in the villages. There are almost 600 of us. As we here are so close to the border, there is always a problem with the Janjaweed coming.

Although life as a soldier is hard, we are obliged to protect the community. But it is hard too, as the community is obliged to assist us as well – with food and shelter for example. But they have nothing themselves, they have nothing to give us, so it is very difficult. We get no salary, nothing at all. It is difficult.

We are very cut off here, very cut off from decisions that are made. Those who negotiate with the government are at a different level. Here, we hear nothing about it. All we can hope for is that peace comes. I think, I hope there will be peace soon.

During the events in Sudan, every family contributed an animal in order to buy weapons, to fight the Sudanese government, but then, when a lot of parents and families were killed, we had to flee. We joined the army and had some brief training.

I bought my own gun, and my uniform too. We have to.

Now, I have my own family; a wife and a baby. I hope for peace. I never wanted to be a soldier. I never wanted to stop my studies. When peace comes, I would like to resume my studies.