AJWS to push U.S. on Sudanese refugee issue


The American Jewish World Service is putting together a targeted advocacy campaign to push the United States to develop a policy on accepting refugees from the genocide in the Sudan.

“It’s not fair to these small countries in the Middle East and in North Africa to ask them to take in all of these refugees,” AJWS Executive Director Ruth Messinger told JTA. “There should be a worldwide effort. If there was a proportionate response from elsewhere in the world, each country would end up with refugees to absorb.”

Though there are no exact numbers on how many people are seeking refuge from Sudan, it is estimated that 3 million people have been displaced from their homes since fighting began in 2003. Rough numbers suggest that 2 million of them are still in Sudan and that a half-million are outside the country. Around a quarter-million may be in Chad and the majority of the remainder are spread around North Africa and the Middle East, including Israel.

Israel has taken heat recently for its decision to turn away refugees from Sudan. Israel has taken in nearly 2,800 Africans who entered the country illegally through Egypt in the past couple of years, according to the Jerusalem Post. Some 1,200 of them are from Sudan. Israel agreed to keep 500 Muslim refugees from Darfur, but decided Sunday that it will no longer accept refugees.

Messinger would not judge the move but said that she understood Israel’s predicament.

Messinger just returned from a mission to Sudan and Chad with the group Dream for Darfur, which is trying to put pressure on China, host of the 2008 Olympics, to stop its economic involvement with Sudan.

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