SETTING UP- Peter Underwood

Refugee camp in the City

  • Jun. 22, 2011 2:59 p.m.

Students and Red Deerians had a rare opportunity to learn about what life is like in a refugee camp at Central Middle School this past week.

A refugee shelter was set up along with different booths to teach about the conditions in a camp as part of World Refugee Day, which was recognized on Monday.

“The idea is to put people through a simulated experience so they can be a bit more compassionate about what refugees go through,” said Jan Underwood, of the Central Alberta Refugee Effort.

Participants went through and took on an identity and learned about the health conditions, food and water portions and also what it was like to try and find a family member.

“At first when you give someone their identification it doesn’t really hit home until they go around the different tents and then it starts to sink in, especially when they go through the Red Cross tent and learn about the family unification program where they are trying to find a family member,” said Underwood.

It is estimated that around 100,000 people live in a refugee camps across the world and the World Food Program supplies food, but of course it is minimal, said Underwood.

Andrew Atem is a refugee from Sudan who came to Canada in 1998, but he has never lived in a camp and is thankful for that.

He studied in Egypt and then applied for refugee status because of the security situation and was accepted by the Canadian Embassy.

“When somebody helps you it is very, very important and I am very happy that the Canadian government helped me and brought me here,” said Atem.

Atem’s family is still in Sudan and he plans on visiting them some day but says he is happy to be a Canadian citizen.

“I found security here and am very delighted to be here,” said Atem.

To learn more about World Refugee Day visit www.unhcr.ca.

tsigurdson@reddeerexpress.com

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