Speaker urges Darfur aid

The genocide occurring in Darfur, Sudan has gone largely unnoticed until recently, a member of the Lost Boys of Sudan, a group of 26,000 Sudanese orphans, said Wednesday.

Daniel Garange was invited by the UH chapter of STAND: A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition, to raise awareness of the violence in Darfur.

"As a survivor, I have an obligation to make sure the world does not forget what happened to my people, and I have an obligation to do what I can to prevent the government of Sudan from committing genocide against the people in Darfur. … The government in Khartoum is intentionally killing the people of Darfur for oil interest," Garange said. "The people of Darfur are killed because of their African ethnicity."

Since 2002, the Sudanese government and army have not ceased in the mass killings, but have switched from targeting African Muslims to targeting African Christians, he said.

Garange also recalled his experiences in Darfur as a child before fleeing Sudan to a neighboring country.

"My father and I were in a group of thousands of unarmed civilians fleeing from Bor when the Sudanese government army attacked us. The northern troops, armed with heavy armor vehicles, carried attacks on unarmed civilians," Garange said. "I saw my father killed by flying bullets."

Garange said he was only 6 years old when his father died.

He and other Sudanese children then fled Sudan by walking hundreds of miles to a refugee camp in Ethiopia, where he lived until 1991, when civil war broke out.

"In Ethiopia, God helped me live," he said.

Garange said that of the 4,000 members of the Lost Boys of Sudan residing in the U.S., 300 live in Houston. The Sudanese refugees living in Houston need assistance with adjusting to life in the U.S. because many have trouble with things such as language and finances, he said. Most of them have dropped out of school because of financial difficulties, as well, he said.

He said people should be active in raising awareness about Darfur by educating people about the situation, such as starting a letter-writing campaign to elected officials. He also encouraged people to boycott any companies sponsoring or advertising the Summer 2008 Olympics in China because of its investment in Sudanese oil.

"Man-made disasters can be solved by man," Garange said.

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