Fugee Fridays is a volunteer humanitarian initiative, founded in 2008 in response to the acute distress of the growing community of African asylum seekers living in Tel Aviv. Our purpose is to help address this community’s immediate needs while nurturing their independence, raising awareness of their plight, fostering positive cultural exchange between Israelis and Africans living in Israel and empowering both the refugee community and our volunteers. We organize a number of projects for the benefit of the African community, including food collection from the Carmel Market, language classes, children’s activities and a growing list of community development projects. Everything we do is guided by our belief in simple, elegant problem-solving which connects urgent needs with available and sustainable solutions. We hope that, by setting a personal example, we can inspire others to create similar social action projects that benefit their communities.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Down Down Bashir!

The International Criminal Court in The Hague on March 5 issued a warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, citing seven counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and forcible displacement.

However, according to the ICC, there was not enough evidence to include the charge of genocide.

Tel Aviv's substantial community of Sudanese refugees held a large rally soon after - organized and attended by asylum seekers from Darfur - praising ICC's decision to indict Bashir.

Demonstrators chanted slogans in support of prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, as well as the United States and Israel, while booing Bashir. It was an exuberant exercise of democratic rights by a community that has too often been deprived of such expression.

While the international arrest warrant was hailed by demonstrators as an important benchmark on the path to greater peace and justice in the region, many worry that the decision threatens any weak stability existing in the area. Bashir has already responded to the charges by expelling a number of humanitarian aid agencies from the country, including Oxfam and Mercy Corps. In a country where chaos and famine remain the rule, this could have disastrous results.

Still, the ICC's actions were received by the Sudanese community in Tel Aviv as a positive development. One can only hope that this will be a step forward toward ending the atrocities and securing peace in the country.

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