Local News

'Tents of Hope' Project Raises Awareness About Darfur

Posted February 24, 2008 7:10 p.m. EST
Updated February 25, 2008 6:15 a.m. EST

— A group at Meredith College brought attention Sunday to the Darfur region of western Sudan.

Mass murders, rape, torture and the destruction of property occur daily in the conflict-wracked region, according to grassroots activist organization Amnesty International.

“This is the greatest humanitarian crisis of the 21st century,” Raleigh/Durham Interfaith Coalition Founder Flo Singer said.

To help get the word out about what is happening in Darfur, Meredith College hosted "Tents of Hope" Sunday afternoon. The project aims to use tents as focal points to advocate humanitarian assistance in Darfur. The tents painted in Raleigh will be sent to a nationwide "Gathering of Tents" in Washington in September.

Mohamed Yahya, a Darfuri refugee who says he has lost 21 family members to the conflict, was the event's keynote speaker.

"They destroyed my village along with 50 other villages in one day and they killed 21 of my family members, buried two of my grandparents alive, assaulted two of my sisters, two of them raped. My brother and brother-in-law were killed,” Yahya said.

It is estimated that 2.5 million people have been displaced in Darfur.

The conflict stemmed from the people of Darfur, mostly black Africans, feeling that they were left out of the Sudanese government and discriminated against. In 2003, African rebel groups began attacking government buildings and leaders in Darfur.

In response, Arab Janjaweed militias, fighters backed by the Sudanese government and opposed to religions other than Islam, began attacking African villages and forcing people to flee their homes.

"The government of Sudan, which considers itself an Arab government –  Muslim government – and is targeting other Muslims, who are black Muslims because they are not Arabs,” Yahya said.

“I think for evil to exist, people of good will need to do nothing,” Singer said.

"Tents of Hope" participates hope the project will promote awareness and raise funds for Darfurians.

"This is a test, real test, for the international community to get up and stand up and do something for Darfur, before it is too late,” Yahya said.

"Tents of Hope" events are being held all over the United States.