Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Darfur refugee encounters compassionate counsellors on YU Counterpoint Israel program

Written by Avraham Zuroff

JERUSALEM – You can easily spot Yismael among the other immigrant campers. He carries a notebook and incessantly jots new words that he learns in English and Arabic. Unlike his fellow campers who periodically visit their parents who live in Israel, Yismael hasn’t seen his parents for two years – his parents live in a refugee camp in Chad.

Yismael decided to flee his war-torn homeland of Darfur two years ago. Yismael, who was then 16, trekked from Darfur to Libya to Egypt and finally Israel. He was the youngest of a group of 15 friends who fled Darfur.

In the thick of the night, Yismael and his companions crossed over the Egyptian border, but they were detected. Yismael dropped his knack sack containing his sole personal belongings and started running. During the pursuit, the Egyptian border patrol shot and killed three of his companions.

But Yismael had no time to mourn the death of his friends. He continued with his odyssey trekking more than 2,000 kilometres by foot without food or cash and arrived at the Israeli border, only to be detected by Israeli troops. They subsequently incarcerated him and his friends for two weeks.

The Israeli authorities gave political asylum to Yismael and a year later placed him at the Yemin Orde youth village in Carmel.

“I want to return to Darfur when there will be peace,” Yismael told the Jewish Tribune, speaking in fluent Hebrew. Although he isn’t Jewish, Yismael dons a kippa when participating in daily prayers and enjoys the Torah lectures at the youth village. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

No comments: