“We don’t want to keep running from place to place to place looking for the best tree to sleep under with our kids,” a Sudanese refugee said to Congressman Frank Wolf during his recent trip to the world’s newest nation, South Sudan. On behalf of the persecuted, Wolf has exposed oppressive governments and horrifying conditions in Sudan and other dangerous locations around the world.
“We just want to raise our kids,” the Sudanese widow said. Daily bombings by Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s forces have made that impossible. These refugees left their Nuba Mountain homes to escape the brutality of northern Sudanese soldiers. The soldiers killed the refugees’ male kin and raped their women and their girls.
The refugees relocated to a camp in Yida, South Sudan, established by Samaritan’s Purse, a relief organization that helps the refugees run the camp.
Even there, the refugees lack safety and shelter from aerial bombing. “There is nothing you can do when something is flying over you and you are just laying on the ground,” a refugee explained to Wolf. A bomb “might fall on you or it might fall away from you,” she said, “but when it falls on you, you just have to prepare yourself for death.”
In addition to the threat of violent death from bomb shrapnel, Yida’s refugees cannot plant crops or tend animals to support their community. They cannot educate their children. In the Nuba Mountain region, severe food shortages pose a risk of widespread famine.
“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know,” William Wilberforce said in the eighteenth century, as he continually spoke out against the slave trade.
We, as a nation, may choose to look the other way from Sudan, but we cannot say we did not know.