Sudan speaker series enlightens, inspires students

By Amanda Finnegan
November 4, 2005

Jerry Zurek

Catholic Relief Services speaker Abdirahman Mohamed educated students on the horrors on the conflict in Sudan on Oct. 25 courtesy of the Wolfington Center. Mohamed is the Head of Office in the Sudan Program for CRS. Although Mohamed is from Kenya, he has spent a great deal of time on the conflict in Sudan.

Mohamed started off the program by introducing himself and giving some background information about Sudan. Sudan is the largest country in Africa and densely populated with 40 million people. Because of the extremely hot and dry climate, the average life expectancy is 58 years. Most of the population of Sudan is Suni-Muslim. Because of the history of conflict, Sudan remains one of the poorest countries in the world.

After 21 years of civil war in southern Sudan between the Muslim north and the Christian south, over two million were left dead and four million were displaced as refugees throughout other parts of the country. Mohamed explained that thanks to CRS, 200,000 refugees were able to return to their homes in southern Sudan in 2004.

Another crisis began in the western region of Sudan called Darfur in February 2003 when two rebel groups rose up against the Sudanese government because of unjust treatment over land and resources. The government shot back by arming local militia to attack. The result was a crisis known to the United Nations today as the largest humanitarian emergency to date.

Since February 2003, 300,000 have died because of malnutrition, disease and rebel attacks. Mohamed said that women and children suffered the most since the rebels used rape as a tool of war.

CRS’s mission is to stop the violence, provide aid and resolve the conflict. “We look at our job as short term and hope that a resolution can be achieved. We provide them with the tool to rebuild their lives,” Mohamed said. CRS also works with the World Food Program to deliver to 120,000 beneficiaries in 28 different villages each month and will be done until the people of Darfur can return home. CRS also provides toiletries and shelters as well. They have already provided 500 shelters thus far and plan to provide 2,500 more by December 2005.

The slides that Mohamed brought along with him spoke louder than his words. The slides showed hundreds of those who were displaced, forced to live under a dozen trees scattered throughout the 120 degree landscape. Mohamed works side by side with CRS to help rebuild homes for these people.

CRS and UNICEF are also trying their best to rebuild school. “We want to rebuild schools to give the children a sense of normalcy in their lives,” Mohamed said. CRS and UNICEF provide benefits for people in Sudan who want to become teachers such as training and food rations as an incentive.

Mohamed said that even though his work is beneficial, it is dangerous as well. Seven CRS workers were held hostage for a week. Mohamed stressed that lives can be lost even though CRS has nothing but good intentions.

The Wolfington center concluded the discussion by announcing some of the proceeds from fundraising by students will be donated to the Sudan conflict. Also, it was announced that an actual Sudanese refugee tent will be here at Cabrini in one of the upcoming weeks. Through, the bringing of a refugee tent to Cabrini’s students along with the discussion, CRS and Mohamed hope that students will be motivated to help with the crisis too.

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Posted to the web by Shane Evans

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Amanda Finnegan

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