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THE FARCHANA MANIFESTO: Darfur Refugee Women Risk Everything For Their Rights

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Published on Feb 26, 2009

Note: Ivan Gayton—interviewed here and in Darfur In Ten Minutes—is available to speak at your school or anywhere else. ivangayton@hotmail.com

In the summer of 2008, after a night of terror, a group of courageous Sudanese refugee women living in the Farchana refugee camp in eastern Chad wrote a 14-point document calling for their rights. It has come to be called the Farchana Manifesto.

Despite great danger, one of the women was willing to speak out on camera. My friend Ivan, who was doing humanitarian aid work in Chad, filmed this interview and brought it home. I (Pete) then interviewed Ivan, and with additional footage from a few generous others, put together this ten-minute piece.

The underlying message is this: Refugee camps are meant to be transitional. When they become what are called semi-permanent locations, they can become even greater refuges for hopelessness and violence—with women facing the brunt of the violence.

This is contrary to both human dignity and the stated goals of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which is to protect and support refugees and assist in their return or resettlement.

The main goal of the piece is to answer the women's plea to "bring this message to the outside world." It seems the least we can all do. Awareness is the first step.

I hope you find the piece inspiring and informative, and a call to action,

Pete McCormack,
February 2009

See also, for example, the UNHCR (www.unhcr.org) and Physicians for Human Rights (http://darfuriwomen.phrblog.org/intro), our Darfur In Ten Minutes on youtube and Mahmood Mamdani's The New Humanitarian Order (www.thenation.com/doc/20080929/mamdani).

Credits:

Ton Koene (www.tonkoene.nl) for his photos, Jacky Essombe (www.jackyessombe.com) for her voice, Karin Muller (www.take2videos.org) and Ivan for additional background footage, Stephen Cohen for the additional interview, thanks to Sarah Estacaille for the B-cam help, and Dr. Amin Jalloh (www.arabicgloballanguage.com) for translation.

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