As I begin my journey to visit the schools in the Darfuri refugee camps Djabal and Goz Amer, what I am looking forward to most is reconnecting with old friends, making news ones, playing games with the school children, and sharing in their infectious laughter. During the trip I will be documenting the impact of the Darfur Dream Team’s support for education in the refugee camps in eastern Chad. I will be gathering stories, taking photos, and collecting footage of how DDT funds have been implemented in Goz Amer refugee camp and discussing plans for providing continued support for quality education in Djabal and Goz Amer.
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres recently gave an interview to the Guardian about possible cuts to education and repatriation programs in refugee camps in Africa. According to Guterres, “International attention and sympathy has drifted away from Africa,” and the U.N. refugee agency, or UNHCR, will have less than half of the funds needed to support their current operations on the continent. To date UNHCR has only managed to raise a quarter of the $177 million they need to provide services for the refugees in eastern Chad. They may have to cut the life sustaining activities that provide hope and resilience in the camps, including education. The work we do to support primary education in Djabal and Goz Amer refugee camps requires our commitment now more than ever before.
This trip is happening at a crucial time as serious funding cuts loom and the 10th anniversary of the start of the Darfur conflict approaches. Violence has led to the deaths of approximately 300,000 people and the forced displacement of an estimated 4 million people over the course of the conflict. During my last trip, the refugees I met continuously expressed gratitude for their friends in the United States for remembering their plight and giving them hope that peace will return to Darfur.
To learn more about the Darfur crisis since 2003, check out the timeline we just published for details on the conflict and the peace process. In addition, be sure to like the Darfur Dream Team on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates and dispatches from my trip. You can also submit questions and messages through both sites that I can answer and pass along during my trip.
Photo: Playing charades with kids in Goz Amer camp (Darfur Dream Team)