Sunday, June 20, 2010

World Refugee Day: War Child

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I am a refugee. Under threat of death, my family escaped the Duvalier regime of Haiti in the dead of the night in 1986. It took years of living in fear and exile before we were granted asylum to the U.S. My story is just one of many from refugees worldwide. Today, on UN World Refugee Day, I hope you can take some time and watch the story of Emmanuel Jal, a Sudanese "lost boy" and child soldier turned international hip-hop star and activist. You can find the documentary, War Child, here.

An estimated 2 million people have been killed and million have been displaced by the violence in Sudan. Many Sudanese refugees have come to Cairo, where the UNHCR is located, to seek asylum. Although Sudanese refugees account for sixty-eight percent of Egypt’s refugee population (according to calculations that exclude the Palestinians), little has been done to address this community's needs. The Sudanese are often unable to obtain adequate medical care, education, and legal status in order to pursue employment opportunities.Furthermore, the Sudanese refugees have been subjected to documented cases of police brutality, blatant racism, and lack of access to basic social services.
A briefing on Sudanese refugees in Cairo can be found here.

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