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DATE=11/12/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=AFRICAN REFUGEE SUNDAYS (L-O) NUMBER=2-256110 BYLINE=MICHAEL LELAND DATELINE=CHICAGO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The United Nations says while Africa has some of the most serious refugee problems in the world, its crises do not seem to get the attention given to the world's other trouble spots. The U-N High Commissioner for Refugee has begun a campaign to raise public awareness of the African refugee problem among Americans. VOA's Michael Leland reports, the campaign centers on African-American churches in the U-S. TEXT: The U-N-C-H-R estimates there are 21 million refugees worldwide, and that at least six million of these are in Africa. It says millions more Africans are displaced within their own nations. Despite this crisis, it says African refugees rarely get the kind of attention, or financial and material support, seen in places like Kosovo earlier this year. Jeff Meer of the Washington-based group U-S-A for U-N-H-C-R says one reason for this is many of Africa's refugee crises, like the one resulting from the Sudanese civil war, are not often covered by the international media. // Meer act // It is not like a Kosovo, which started and was over in five months. This is a lingering, chronic problem in a very, very important part of Africa that just does not make the headlines. // end act // U-S-A for U-N-H-C-R is working with the Chicago-based African-American group "Rainbow-PUSH coalition" and the U-N-H-C-R on a project called African Refugee Sunday. It is a two-month effort in ten U-S cities (Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Tampa and Washington, DC) to educate people about the African refugee problem, and raise at least ten-million dollars for relief operations. The campaign is based largely in the country's African-American churches. The Reverend Jimmie Daniels of suburban Chicago says because Americans receive little news about Africa, many do not understand its refugee problem. // Daniels act // We tend to sit back and think that the government is taking care of it and the part that the government is not taking care of, the Red Cross is taking care of. // end act // The Reverend Marshall Hatch of Chicago thinks the ten million-dollar goal is reachable, because people in many African-American congregations are already concerned about Africa. // Hatch act // There is this sense in the religious heritage in the black church, that the blessings that we have, the reason we have them is to give back, particularly to Africa and the Caribbean. There is a strong sense of that in the black church. // end act // The Reverend Hatch says while he is disappointed the response to Africa's continuing refugee problems has been less than the response to the refugee crisis this year in Kosovo, Kosovo does serve as an example of people's willingness to help when the severity of the crisis is explained to them. (Signed) NEB/MJL/PT 12-Nov-1999 17:08 PM EDT (12-Nov-1999 2208 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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