Grad student recaps work in Darfur

Leslie Arntz

A photo can capture and convey more than the most descriptive words and statistics.

A photo of a woman and a single sack of grain meant to feed seven families shows the need for humanitarian aid better than the figure of 3 million people who need food and water.

Journalism graduate student Dan Teng’o spoke yesterday in the Verder Hall lounge about his year-long experience working in the refugee camps in Darfur, Sudan and Chad. He applied for monthly permits from a suspicious Sudanese government to take photos at the camps, which he shared during his presentation.

“The photos really illustrated (the situation),” said Marianne Warzinski, program coordinator for the CCI Commons. “It put a face on it. When people think of refugee camps, you think of this large tent with cots, and it’s organized. They’ve really got plastic bags and burlap propped up with sticks.”

Freshman photojournalism major Stephanie Dever said Teng’o explained the background of the conflict well. She said it was confusing trying to read about the situation online.

“This is not a religious issue,” Teng’o said. “All parties are Muslim.”

He said the fighting is between Africans rebelling against an Arab government they say oppressed them.

“The government of Sudan is waging war against its own people,” he said. “The level of corruption in the government is very high, but they never talk about it.”

More than 400,000 people have been killed since 2003 by the Janjaweed, an Arabian militia tied to the Sudanese government. More than 2 million people have been displaced and are living in refugee camps along the border of Sudan and Chad.

Teng’o said people are not even safe in the camps; the Janjaweed still make raids and attack.

“The children have borne the largest brunt of the war,” Teng’o said. “They’ve lost their childhood. They set up safe areas for them to go and play. Many parents send their children because it’s the only safe place they can think of.”

Sophomore communications major Nate Selinsky said it was interesting to hear firsthand about something covered poorly in the news.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything about it before,” he said. “It was a real eye-opener. You know stuff like this is happening all over the world, but it is interesting to get a closer look in on it.”

Dever said she is saddened by the events going on in the world and is interested in participating in humanitarian efforts.

“It just gives me more inspiration to get out there and make change, to change how news coverage goes,” she said. “After the Holocaust, people said it would never happen again. But it is happening, again and again and again.”

Teng’o encouraged the people there and the international community not to give up on Darfur.

“The people say, ‘If there is somebody out there who doesn’t know us, but is out here, giving us food, saving our children, there will be someone to help us get back to our lives,'” Teng’o said. “What the conflict in Darfur needs is political resolution. When the fighting stops, the killing stops – then the great need for humanitarian assistance will not be needed.”

Contact College of Technology reporter Leslie Arntz at [email protected].


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Source: International Crisis Group,