Of the 250,000 Sudanese refugees living in Chad and Central African Republic, 10,000 die each month. An estimated 450,000 have died since the start of the four-year-old conflict in Darfur, Sudan, according to Stop Genocide Now.
Camp Darfur, which came to CSUN Monday for a two-day stay, is a traveling interactive event for students, and has six tents with history and facts about the genocide. The traveling refugee camp also kicked off CSUN’s Africa Week.
“Hopefully we can stop genocide before it starts with the next generation of leaders,” said Gabriel Stauring, a representative of SGN. “I’ve seen students lives change over (their) activism for Darfur. The biggest groups in Darfur activism were initiated by students.”
Stauring has been to Sudan three times in the past and hopes to visit again this winter.
“It’s a roller coaster,” he said of the emotional impact of being in Darfur. “We hear horrible stories of death and rape.”
“You think after everything they go through, they may reach a safe haven, but they don’t,” he added. “It is frustrating to see the same people there I saw years ago.
While in Chad, Stauring said he and other members of SGN head out to the refugee camps, staying for hours at a time. They record and broadcast their activities through a website.
“Awareness can turn into action,” said Stauring. Sending a letter or calling Congress can help, he added.
“We are good at feeling sorry for past events, but we don’t know what to do when one is going on.”
Stauring said the lucky ones make it to Chad, “Yet, it takes days to walk there.”
“They believe nobody knows about them, they’ve been in the camps for so long,” said Stauring of the people living in Darfur. “The people in Darfur are still alive, but won’t be for long if we don’t do anything about it.”
Stauring collaborated with the CSUN Young Democrats, African Student Organization Anthropology Student Association, and the Political Science Student Association to host the Camp Darfur event.
“I thought it would be important for students to get politically involved,” said Ali Bamdad, a 26-year-old senior political science major and president of the CSUN Young Democrats.
“We are a society that forgets things that are going on in the world,” he added.
Associated Students gave $500 to fund the event, which started at 10 a.m. “It is a great idea,” said Lusine Harutyunyan, a 19-year-old sophomore biology major and member of the Armenian Student Association.
“People should act upon it and make a change in this world. Genocides need to stop.”
Harutyunyan wrote inside the tent for the Armenian genocide, which happened during World War I, when her great-grandparents were killed.
“I don’t think the majority knows enough about the genocides,” said Harutyunyan. “Most people only learn about the Holocaust in high school, and not the others until they get to college.”
“Every single Armenian has been affected,” she said. “At one point, they have all had a family member that has been killed.”
Students can also get involved in Darfur without spending money, said Stephanie Stricklin, a senior political science major and member of CSUN Young Democrats.
“I am hoping students feel empowered and can make a difference,” she said. “What we are doing has worked so far. It has been enough to create change.”
The African Student Organization has other events scheduled for Africa Week. On Thursday, there will be a panel discussion involving professors from CSUN and UCLA, as well as members from the China Institute.
“China has more influence in Africa than any other country at the rate they’re going,” said Stricklin. “They bring in infrastructure and aid to Africa that no one else is willing to provide.”
“Their humanitarian record is awful,” Stricklin added about China. “China is going to help Africa grow, but at the expense of human interests.”
Jose Garcia, a 24-year-old senior anthropology major, said he hopes to “increase awareness of global issues” through this event.
“We can tie anthropology into any field,” he said. “Here, we are mixing anthropology with political science.”
“We can make a difference,” said Garcia. “We just really care that students are aware of what’s going on.
“Genocide has been an issue for awhile. It is not something that has gone away.”
ASA is involved with culture and issues of different regions of the world, said Garcia.
Dan Monteleone, a 25-year-old senior political science major who became involved in Young Democrats through his involvement in the San Fernando Valley Young Democrats, said that the ultimate goal is to stop further genocides.
“With a different genocide every few years, we are trying to prevent it from happening again,” Monteleone said.
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