Last week I visited the largest refugee camp in the world, Dadaab in northern Kenya, home to almost 450,000 Somali refugees.
I also visited the Yida refugee camp in northern South Sudan which has 60,000 Sudanese inhabitants fleeing from the conflict in South Kordofan, Sudan.
My expectations of an African refugee camp were shaped by the images on our TV screens of skeletal starvation and desperately malnourished kids.
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As the full omnishambles of both the Government’s and the Opposition’s asylum seeker policies is revealed, it seems the answer was there, right in front of us, all the time.
Refugees just needed to absorb one tiny bit of Australian culture. The redneck motto: Go back to where you came from.
A study has revealed most Sudanese refugees want to go home, some temporarily and some permanently.
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Emmanuel Jal was around seven years old when he was recruited as a soldier for the Sudanese Liberation Army. He’s now become a hit musician. But how did he get from one to the other? He explained his story to The Punch.
Can you describe for us how you were recruited to the Sudanese Liberation Army, and how you felt at the time?
I was 7 years old and I had been sent to a refugee camp in Ethiopia by my father to receive schooling and to leave the war behind. Whilst I was at the camp, under the UN’s nose SPLA commanders were rallying the children and young people together.
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A little over two months ago, on 9 July 2011, the world celebrated in unison at the birth of the world’s newest nation, the Republic of South Sudan.
As the Prime Minister’s Special Representative, I was privileged to represent Australia at the independence celebrations in Juba, South Sudan’s largest city and the capital of the newly independent country.
It was an historic moment, and the elation was palpable and infectious. With an Australian Akubra hat protecting me from the hot African sun, I shared in the joy and celebrations of thousands of South Sudanese.
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