A Refugee from Darfur in Sam Ouandja, Central African Republic

Above: A Refugee from Darfur in Sam Ouandja, Central African Republic

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Film, Panel Discussion at UF to Examine Darfur

Since 2003, between 200,000 and 400,000 people in Darfur, Sudan, have been killed and another 2.5 million have been displaced from their destroyed villages to face hunger, thirst, illness, rape and death.

The U.S. has recognized the Sudanese government’s attacks on non-Arab African groups as genocide, and humanitarian organizations around the world have lamented the limited amount aid and intervention in the region.

This Monday, students at the University of Florida and others are invited to learn about the six-year conflict and atrocity from five experts on African issues. The event, which will start at 6:30 p.m. in the Ocora Room at Pugh Hall, will feature a screening of the 2007 documentary “Sand and Sorrow,” followed by a panel discussion by four professors and an alumnus from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The panel will feature Elizabeth Porter from the food and resource economics department, Abe Goldman from the geography department, Staffan Lindberg from the political science department, Rene Lemarchand, a professor emeritus from the political science department, and UF alumnus Peter Ter, a former refugee of the Second Sudanese Civil War.

The event was organized by UF business administration senior Sneha Patel and the UF humanitarian group Recurso. Patel, who volunteered over the summer with Team Darfur, a coalition of athletes raising awareness about Darfur before the 2008 Olympic Games, knew she wanted to educate UF students about Darfur but had few resources and no funds. She also saw that as people in Darfur were still dying, the region was falling out of the media spotlight.

“It’s been going on for a long time — way longer than it should be,” she said. “Yeah, it’s been going on, but it’s still the same. People have been dying every day.”

Patel hopes the screening will educate students about Darfur and encourage them to act.

“I think the reason a lot of people aren’t doing anything is that a lot of people don’t know about it,” Patel said. “I want students who know nothing about Darfur to come.”

Attendees will also receive a fact sheet about Darfur and a list of easy, cost-effective actions students can take --“really simple things,” Patel said.

UF geography professor and panel member Abe Goldman has been following the violence in Darfur for years, and said any opportunity help the region is worthwhile.

“It’s extremely destructive and extremely painful that we haven’t been able to stop it,” he said. “And by we, I mean the world. Whether it’s called genocide or not, it’s a mass atrocity”

Sudan has been plagued by civil war between the north and south for decades, which has fueled the conflict in Darfur. The conflict has also spread into neighboring Chad, Goldman said.

“Anything that anyone can do to increase awareness of these atrocities is worth doing,” he said.



Lindsey Robinson, lindzr@ufl.edu 386-235-3331


Sneha Patel, Spatel31@ufl.edu


Nicolas Rost, UNHCR Humanitarian and Development Partnership Team in the Central African Republic, Flickr

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