With an estimated 300,000 people dead and over 2,000,000 more displaced from their homes, the conflict in Darfur has now reached the five-year mark and is still raging.
In response to the ongoing situation, the UC Davis chapter of STAND: A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition, is trying to make a difference any way it can.
On Friday, STAND will host its second annual “Dining for Darfur,” a fully-catered fundraising dinner. All proceeds will go directly to the Genocide Intervention Network to be used for civilian protection for refugees in Darfur and Chad.
The dinner will be held in the ARC Ballroom, and doors open at 6 p.m.
“‘Dining for Darfur’ is the perfect way for the average student to help the people [in refugee camps],” said Rachel Goldstein, sophomore international relations major and vice-president of the UC Davis chapter of STAND.
Last year, STAND raised over $9,000 from the event. This year, STAND hopes to raise over $15,000, said UC Davis STAND chapter President Kristina Fisher.
“We’re trying to raise $15,000 when [refugees] need billions, but it’s a start,” said Fisher, a junior international relations major.
“Dining for Darfur” will feature speakers Mark Hannis, director of Genocide Intervention Network, the umbrella organization to STAND, and Mohammad Suleiman, a native of Southern Sudan and expert on the conflict.
Sarah Gold, Northern California outreach coordinator for STAND National, said the dinner is also a way to raise student awareness on the situation in Darfur.
“The genocide is now in its fifth year, and a lot of people have forgotten about it or don’t think they can do anything to help,”said Gold, a sophomore international relations major. “‘Dining for Darfur’ is a great way to spur the movement, to get students involved.”
The dinner will feature live performances by groups such as The Spokes, a gospel choir and a world music band, among others.
The proceeds of “Dining for Darfur” will focus specifically on civilian protection, which is lacking in the camps, Fisher said.
When refugees in the camps go outside to collect firewood to cook their food, they risk an attack by the Janjaweed, a Sudanese-sponsored militia, she said.
“If you are a woman, you’re raped, if you are a man, you’re killed,” she said.
The conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan erupted in 2003 when two Darfurian rebel groups, frustrated from poverty and governmental neglect, staged an uprising against the Sudanese government, according to STAND National’s website.
The government responded by not only killing the rebel group, but also innocent civilians who were not involved in the uprising, Fisher said.
“The government [decided to] kill the population so there would be no support for the rebel groups,” she said. “There is nothing left in Darfur.”
Presale tickets for the event can be purchased at Freeborn Hall for $12 for students and $15 for non-students, or at the door for $15 for students or $20 for non-students.
Gold advises interested parties to buy their tickets early, as she anticipates the event will sell out like it did last year. For more information on UC Davis STAND, e-mail the organization at email@example.com.
ANNA OPALKA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org