By Lizzie Lacey
Over 2,000 people participated in the San Diego Walk for Darfur at Balboa Park Nov. 19, which raised approximately $95,000 to benefit International Medical Corps programs in the Darfur region of Sudan and Chad.
The walk was led by former City College students Benson Deng and Benjamin Ajak, co-authors of the book “They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The True Story of Three Lost Boys from Sudan.”
“This is a walk to remember that some people are suffering right now, especially young people, especially children, they are dying here. They are dying of thirst. They are dying because there is no food. Why? Because they have been forced out of their villages,” said Deng, “that is what happened to me.”
At least 200,000 people have been killed by the Sudanese government’s armed forces and its allied Janjaweed militia in the Darfur region of western Sudan. Hundreds of rural villages have been burned and destroyed, thousands of women and girls have been assaulted and raped, and 2.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes.
Rabbi Lee Bycel, International Medical Corps’ Senior Advisor for Global Strategy spoke at the post-walk rally about the many Darfurians he had met in Sudan who had seen their lives destroyed.
“I can see their eyes, I can hear their voices, I can feel their yearnings,” said Bycel. “All they want is to return to their homes in the Sudan. All they want is food, water. All they want is security and peace.”
International Medical Corps has been providing critical emergency medical services for residents of South and West Darfur since 1994.
According to the International Medical Corps, survivors live under the constant threat of attacks by militias that operate on the outskirts of camps and villages, as well as the devastation effects of starvation, dehydration, and disease that result from extreme isolation in one of Africa’s harshest environments.
Ant¢nio Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has described the situation in Sudan and Chad as “the largest and most complex humanitarian problem on the globe.”
Judy Fisher chaired the event to raise San Diego’s awareness about the tragic situation in Darfur.
“This walk has gotten us to talk about Darfur in our homes, in our schools, in our churches, synagogues, mosques,” said Fisher.
“Increasing world attention to the rampant violation of human rights is a critical component in ceasing this deadly conflict,” said congresswoman Susan Davis in a statement read at the walk. “The widespread suffering and despair experienced by the people of Darfur for three years demands an international response and I applaud groups such as yours that are making an effort to end this genocide.”