Darfur refugees continue to face challenges

The MacEwan Journalist

April 2009

In Edmonton, there are thousands of Sudanese people who have been refugees over the last few years and are in dire need of assistance.

“If you are a refugee and you have been living in the forest somewhere running for your life, month after month for many years,” said Jim Gurnett, executive director of the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers.

“You’ve had family members tortured and killed in front of you, you’ve never had a chance to go to school, you’ve never even been in a city maybe, and then suddenly you get plunked down in Edmonton, the adjustments are gigantic,” said Gurnett.

The genocide in Sudan continues to damage and affect the lives of millions of people all over the globe.

The genocide that is ravaging Darfur, Sudan began in February of 2003 and has since claimed the lives of 400,000 people.

The conflict has displaced at least 2.5 million people and put another two million at risk of starvation and disease, according to the United Nations.

The refugees that choose Edmonton as their new homes’ are faced with many challenges and the resources provided to them are limited, according to Gurnett.

Not only do the refugees face difficulties, but the citizens still in Darfur are in urgent need of international assistance, said Eisa Gumaa, President of the Darfur Association of Canada.

“There are four million people in the desert without homes, without shelters.  […]Those people need more protection,” he said.

About the government’s actions when the genocide began six years ago, Gumaa said, “Nobody [went] to see the eight million people that [are] suffering in the desert and [in] the mountains […] who are dying and killing everyday.”

The most important thing that the public can do to help the situation in Darfur is to get active and speak to your parliamentary representative, according to Scott Fenwick, President of the University of Alberta Chapter of Stand Canada.

“Canada must do something,” said Fenwick.  And he added that the only way that Canada will be compelled to act is if the public voices their concerns and lets the government know that they do care and that the government can make a difference in Sudan.

The U of A chapter of Stand Canada is committed to raising awareness around Edmonton to citizens and politicians alike.

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