U.S. Aid Workers Describe a "Humanitarian Tragedy" - IRUSA

“Darfur needs our immediate attention to prevent another tragedy in Sudan”
Posted on 3/22/2007


BUENA PARK, CA (March 22, 2007) – “Darfur needs our immediate attention to prevent another tragedy in Sudan. We need to help save millions of innocent civilians who are in desperate need for help right now,” said Yousef Abdallah, manager of Islamic Relief’s office in Totowa, New Jersey, after returning from a fact-finding mission to Darfur, Sudan.

Abdallah and Anwar Khan, National Development Director for the organization, visited Islamic Relief’s ongoing projects in Darfur and other parts of Sudan as part of a humanitarian trip to the country.

“It was heartbreaking to see that people were still in the camp three years since I last visited,” said Khan. “Three years ago, the displaced population didn’t have shelter. Now they have shelter, but are asking for security in the camps. They don’t feel safe.”

Khan was troubled by the disparaging lack of feeling in the eyes of children. “They have no hope,” said Khan. “I’m worried about a whole generation of children growing up in Darfur without hope.”

“These people were forced to leave their homes,” said Abdallah. “We were overwhelmed with emotion everywhere we went…their smiles, their tears; they can’t live freely and peacefully there anymore. They left everything behind and moved to Geneina looking for peace of mind. It wasn’t easy in the beginning; they spent days and nights in the open before camps were finally opened for them.”

The United Nations estimates 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million have been displaced from their homes since the crisis began four years ago. Many of these displaced victims continue to live in squalid conditions in overcrowded refugee camps inside Sudan and in the neighboring country of Chad.

The once temporary camps for displaced people have become a permanent fixture in Darfur due to the continuing conflict. There are now approximately 200 camps in the region, some near the border of Chad, and others near major towns and cities. The Kerinding II camp in West Darfur was established by Islamic Relief in 2004 and is home to almost 10,000 people. Islamic Relief has provided over $3.7 million of aid assistance in its efforts to ease the suffering of the victims.

Islamic Relief also trains women in making fuel-efficient stoves, reducing the time women spend outside of the camp’s safety looking for firewood, consequently decreasing the chance of rape or attack.

“People are really happy with the services Islamic Relief is providing for them, but they miss their homes,” added Abdallah. “Some of them were very optimistic about going back home; others said they will never go back in the current conditions.”

Khan noted that concerned individuals should “give as much as they can” to assist the victims of the humanitarian crisis. People should also “be educated about the humanitarian issue of Darfur and actively inform others,” added Khan.

Media professionals may contact Islamic Relief for interviews with Abdallah and Khan. B-roll and photos of Islamic Relief’s humanitarian mission to Sudan are also available for media outlets.

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