Sudanese in San Diego rocked by deaths of two young men

All of us in Orange County were shocked to hear that two young Sudanese refugees died in a car crash last Thursday, Dec 23rd.

John Malou Ako, 22

John Malou Ako, 22

The two died Thursday night in a single-car wreck near the East County town of Descanso after their vehicle, driven by Gullaci, rolled off Old Highway 80 for unknown reasons.

San Diego, mainly City Heights, is home to about 2,500 Sudanese immigrants. Most of them fled to the U.S. from a 20-year civil war that killed and displaced millions.

Mark Pasquale Gullaci, 18

Mark Pasquale Gullaci, 18

“We came here to restructure our lives, for a better chance at life,” said Wai John Wai, a member of the community center. “So when we lose members of our community, it’s very painful.”

via SignOnSanDiego.com.

I’m told by our good friend Simon, that their families do not have all the funds to cover the funeral costs.  If you’d like to help, please contact Sudanese American Youth Center in San Diego at 619-800-0824.

South Sudan Preparing for Darfur Refugees?

Photography Courtesy of Stop Genocide Now

Photograph Courtesy of Stop Genocide Now

With critical aid groups expelled from Darfur, many believe that it is only a matter of time before refugees head south.

The UN and the Southern Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC) are preparing for a possible mass influx of Darfur internally displaced persons seeking food, water, shelter, and other assistance.

Problem is, South Sudan has issues of its own. Already, thousands of DRC refugees call South Sudan home after fleeing their country due to attacks by the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army.

Simple logic – when the number of humanitarian groups present decreases, the amount of aid decreases. Yet the number of people in need of support continues to grow.

Happy Birthday Lost Boys

In the late 1980’s, tens of thousands of Sudanese boys were forced from their homes by a devastating civil war between North and South Sudan. Without parents or a home to call their own, they became known as the Lost Boys.

With the help of organizations like the International Rescue Committee, several refugees were able to resettle in the US. With no birth records, all Lost Boys were assigned January 1 as their official birthday.

So, Happy Birthday Lost Boys – you and your story have not been forgotten. Additionally, your home, Sudan, has not been forgotten.

They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, by Judy A. Bernstein, is a fascinating book about the remarkable journey of three Lost Boys from Sudan to the US. To learn more, click here.

The Road Home

618Approximately 4 million people were displaced from and within Sudan in recent years. Now, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 1.7 million are making their way back home.

Unfortunately, rather than being greeted with open arms when they return, these individuals are greeted with a lack of food, water, electricity, basic health services, jobs, schools, and a sense of security. Click here to read more about the tremendous challenges faced by Sudanese refugees as they attempt to return to “normalcy”.

To make matters worse, nearly 60% of those returning are families headed by single females. 59% are children between the ages of 5 and 17. Unbelievable.

Meet the (foster) parents

Joseph “Lopez” Lomong is a United States Olympic 1500-meter runner, and was the choice as the flag bearer of the United States at the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Below is an interview featuring Robert and Barbara Rogers, who took in six Sudanese refugees in their home.  Lopez Lomong was the first of these “Lost Boys” from Sudan to enter their life and forever changed it.

He came from the lowest wrung in a third world nation. And what he’d seen in the world, this broke every rule… why don’t you talk to your friends back home?  Don’t you want to tell them about your life in America?  He said, “They could not believe me.  They just have no frame to realize how every single American lives.” He’s made us see our world a little different…

(Robert Rogers, foster parent of Lopez Lomong)

Single moms of Darfur

On day 7 of the Darfur Olypmics, Mia Farrow talks with women about their lives in the refugee camp.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
posted with vodpod (1:24m)

Women and girls living in Darfur and eastern Chad – in camps, towns and rural areas – live in constant fear of sexual violence. The perpetrators are usually men from the Sudanese security forces, militias, rebel groups and former rebel groups. Gender-based assaults occur as part of the attacks, but also in times of relative calm.

Watch the Darfur Olympics.

Darfur refugees speak out

Mia Farrow is with refugees from Darfur all throughout the Beijing Olympics. Yesterday, she met with leaders of the camp who presented her with a document voicing their needs.

1. We agree with the decision of the International Criminal Court.

2. The refugees have no link to the International community. But they must listen to our voices, not the voice of Omar Al-Bashir.

3. Arrest all the guilty people immediately.
a. We are connected to the IDP community in Darfur. They do not have the freedom to speak.
b. We do not like African forces.We do not like the AU.

4. Disarm the Janjaweed and the military.

5. Those who occupied our land and homes must leave. Our homes must be returned to us, and our belongings.

6. We refuse to accept Government of Sudan in any humanitarian agency.

7. Stop infiltration of camps. People are entering, representing themselves as Chadians but they are Sudanese spies.

8. We need secondary schools. Our children are only given schooling up to 8th grade. If they are uneducated this means there will be more war in the future. (Education is the way for people to find things in common other than their ethnicity.)

9. We are requesting (demanding) other return of our belongings which have been taken from us. Compensation

10. They must arrest Omar Al-Bashir as quickly as possible or he will kill more. Just now we have heard many people are being killed.

Read the entire post on Mia’s blog.

– or –

Watch updates from Mia at the Darfur Olympics.