On World Refugee Day Friday, as the world commemorates the plight of
11 million people who have fled their homes, the U.N. refugee agency
has created a refugee village in the heart of London. The aim is to
highlight the plight of one refugee group - the millions who have fled
the violence of the Darfur region of Sudan. VOA's Mandy Clark reports
Standing in the ruins of smoldering home, a Darfuri
women begs for help. It is not what you would expect to see in central
London's Trafalgar Square, but this the "Darfur experience" refugee
camp. Set up by the U.N. refugee agency to show the challenges aid
agencies face in delivering aid to some of the world's most vulnerable
"We really want to create awareness, actually show the
reality in which refugees live," said Alienor Salmon, a volunteer for
The reality is bleak - plastic tents, a few
blankets, basic food provided by the World Food Program. And then
there is the constant threat of rebels attacking the camps.
of the villages in Darfur have been destroyed, two thirds of the
population is reliant on some form of humanitarian aid, and more than
2.5 million people had been displaced by the conflict. Fighting
involving rebels, government troops, and government-backed militias
broke out in 2003.
British opposition lawmaker, Andrew
Mitchell, says that blame for the on-going crisis in Darfur lies with
world leaders who promised to put a stop the bloodshed.
stands as a condemnation to the leaders of the world who signed up to
this responsibility to protect, which means nothing to these people who
are frightened and anxious living in camps having been bombed and
bullied out of their homes in Darfur, the world is not doing enough
about it," he said.
Many visitors said they found the mock village compelling.
"It is a good thing for all the people to know what is happening in the world," said a visitor.
"I think it is a wonderful display and a very important one for getting help for Darfur," said another one.
"It is nice to actually walk through the camps and see the food parcels and actually talk to people to find out information," another visitor added.
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, was on hand to
launch the UNHCR's Global report just days earlier. He says the number
of people fleeing violence and conflict last year has risen to 11.4
"When one looks at today's world, one sees
not only conflicts multiplying and conflicts intensifying and
generating more and more people on the move," said Guterres. "And I can
only ask the international community to be more and more involved
together, acting together to make sure that these conflicts find an
Some Darfur refugees came to the event in central
London. They say it highlights the need for the violence to end in
Fatima Yalia says the mock village brought back memories
have goosebumps, it makes me feel awful inside, but the world has to
see it," she said. "Darfur has suffered 12 years of war, it has to
The U.N. refugee agency says it is the international
community's responsibility to humanity to help those in greatest need,
the next generation depends on them.