So tomorrow we’ll be out of N’djamena, finally! We’re all excited to get out here and finally get to the camps to see the refugees. I am sure their stories are going to be incredibly impacting, demonstrating the need for both us, as individual citizens, and the international community to do more about this ongoing crisis.
One thing I do want to comment on, though, is that our trip to visit and hear stories from the refugees is but one part of the puzzle. To be trite, this conflict is incredibly complex, spanning decades and now encompassing much of the horn of Africa region. Even when peacekeepers hopefully are capably and fully deployed to permit the safety and repatriation of refugees, we’ll need a long-term peace agreement, as well as a solution that involves the entire Sudanese country, made apparent by the recent strife in the South, and specifically, in the oil-rich area of Abyei. We need to keep up the urgency, but at the same time, we need to realize that even when protection exists, this conflict is not going away in the very near future.
The reason I say this is not to diminish the stories we will be sharing in the coming days. We’re here for these refugees, and we need to increase our urgency in order to provide for their long-term safety and livelihood. But if we’re serious about this endeavor, we need to tackle the issue from a multi-faceted angle. We need to educate ourselves on the complexities of the larger Darfur and Sudan situation, the strengths and limitations of the United Nations force, and the overall environment of the international community. Engaging in a serious dialogue about these difficult questions will allow us to come closer to peace in the region. But we’re not there yet.
So I’m excited to meet the refugees because it’s a piece of the puzzle that has been desperately missing from my advocacy. I read up on the issues, but have been unable to engage with the actual people being affected by the crisis. I hope to gain some perspective from them, and pass it on to the larger community to enhance and improve our larger advocacy. And I encourage you to read these stories and learn from them, but at the same time, educate yourself further on the Sudan conflict, ask the tough questions, and connect all the dots. We’ll be telling the human story, but we need the other chapters in order to provide a peaceful ending.