Coming out of Darfur (and now back)

In the next few days, our friend Gabriel will be heading back to the refugee camps of Darfur. Please keep him and all the members of his team in your prayers. I’m working with our people, so that our fund-raising effort via the famine can have a component that will benefit the growing refugee problem.

Along with your prayers, remember the special needs of the people of Darfur. I just received this note from Gabriel and want to share it with all of you – asking that you forward it to your friends and contacts. Thanks.

From: Gabriel Stauring [mailto:…]
Sent: Thursday, March 19, 2009 11:36 PM
Subject: LA and Darfur
Hello LA friends. What a week! Although it was joyful to hear about the envoy, all we hear out of Darfur is desperation and despair. First, check out Fr V. going all out at our rally!

But, sobering news out of Darfur. Our friend, Mohamed Yahya, asked us to help him spread the following notes, which he gathered from communication with his sources inside of Darfur:

  • In camps in Western Darfur such as Al- Geniena, Riyadh, Abuzaid, Kerdang and Dorti the refugee’s lives are in grave danger at this moment. Riyadh and Abuzaid were attacked by the government and the janjaweed the day after the arrest warrant was issued in retaliation for cheering and celebrating upon news of the ICC’s decision. More than 15 lives were lost and 300 homes burnt that day with all survivors driven out of the camps with no place to go.
  • Thousands are fleeing to the Chad border with anywhere from 30,000 to 4 million more refugees expected to follow. All have been met by the Sudanese government guarding the borders, intent on forced starvation in the Darfur desert.
  • After Al-bashir expelled NGOs, the Sudanese government and the janjaweed immediately took over the camps including food stores, medical clinics and water resources. Not only is there a critical lack of water, food and medical attention but there is no milk for the babies. To add to the horror the refugees must stand by and watch their usual rations of food, medicine and shelter sold to the traders in the market. They must starve and fall ill as they watch their lives being sold for the money it is impossible for them to earn.
  • Many refugees in many different camps in Western, Southern and Northern Darfur are reporting the same atrocities. El- fashir camps are being hit especially hard with lack of water the greatest current threat. Families as large as 7 get only one small plastic container of water. Each person gets less than 2 liters a day to drink with no water left over for hygiene purposes such as cleaning or showering not to mention the forced choice to quench ones thirst or cook life sustaining food. The projections for 2 weeks from now are far worse.
  • In South Darfur camps such as Kalma and Domaya disease is already rampant and spreading every day. Meningitis, cholera and diarrhea have infected hundreds already with more on the way. Doctors have left and the few remaining who are treating entire camps are leaving any day. The disaster has already started
  • When asked what the refugees want us to do to help they replied:

“We need water, food, shelter and medicine.”

“We need peace keepers as quickly as possible from America and Europe to protect us.”

“We need America to send International police to arrest Al-bashir and others before they kill us.”

“Every one of them said. ’We will die, we will all die very soon. We are starving, thirsty and sick; Al-bashir will not need bullets to kill us if this situation continues for more than 2 weeks. Please, do something for us, ask Americans, ask President Obama, ask the United Nations.”

-They pleaded in broken native languages, making me cry. They allowed me to feel their desperation and need for help. I just couldn’t hold my tears back when I asked one man to describe the situation and he replied “Saab, Saab, Saab Khalis Khalis….” Then he went silent because words could not describe the pain. Instead he said what would roughly translate into English,” The situation is very, very difficult…. No one could possibly imagine.”


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