LETTER TO THE EDITOR FOR THE NEWPORT DAILY NEWS - WORLD REFUGEE DAY - JUNE 20, 2010
Imagine your neighborhood being brutally burned to the ground in the early morning hours, while your children are sleeping. Leaving with only what they are wearing, the family disperses to escape being killed or raped. Running while carrying your baby on your back, the baby is shot and killed. But as the mother, you are not able to cope with the reality, so you continue to carry the dead baby on your back for days. And now, months, years later, you have no idea where your other children are, or if they survived because they scattered during the surprise attack. You have been unable to return to your home and now are living as a refugee with only your hope to return one day.
Many refugees are traumatized after losing their land, seeing their homes burned, relatives being killed, stuffed down the water wells and livestock stolen. Millions of human beings are living this way around the planet - as refugees. And yet, the world and US media pays little attention.
Before becoming an activist to prevent and end genocide, I, also, didn’t think about the life of a refugee - missing the essentials of life, such as clean water, food, sanitation, shelter, health care and protection from violence and abuse. Their daily existence is more than an ordinary struggle. They are true life survivors – not some TV entertainment show. The United Nations General Assembly decided that, from 2001, the 20th of June would be celebrated as World Refugee Day and this Sunday is that day. Perhaps it is appropriate that this year World Refugee Day falls on USA’s Fathers’ Day and the theme is “Home”.
The world economic crisis surely will slash humanitarian aid budgets. With enormous uncertainty around the world, we need to ensure refugees are not forgotten.
Refugees are real people, just like you and me, and they have real needs. Of the more than 40 million of forcibly displaced and stateless people, 5 million are from Sudan, including the region of Darfur.
Vice President Joe Biden returns this week from a trip to Africa in which Sudan was a main focus. The U.S. must commit to a re-energized Sudan policy implementation, directing the necessary diplomatic resources towards resolving the suffering in Darfur and averting all-out war in the South.
As Africa’s largest country, Sudan, prepares to split into two countries in January of 2011, Vice President Biden and President Obama must play a direct role in the U.S. Sudan policy. Moving beyond the rhetoric, their leadership needs to be balanced, focused and determined. What could be Africa’s deadliest war is on the brink of happening during this administration’s watch.
Contact President Obama
and your elected officials at 1-800 GENOCIDE