"Nothing can compare to being there and witnessing it with your own eyes. It is like torture" Sami Yusuf
Musician Sami Yusuf has returned from his visit with Islamic Relief (IR) to Darfur in western Sudan. He visited the region to see what life is like for people affected by conflict and how IR is supporting communities. Sami also participated in an IR food distribution.
“In Darfur - I saw poverty,” said Sami, “I saw grief, agony and pain - people in desperate need. It is all very well seeing it on the news but nothing can compare to being there and witnessing it with your own eyes. It is like torture.
“Yet despite the horrendous conditions many live in, I did not see despair and hopelessness. The Sudanese are a dignified people. When I asked Sheikh Mohammed - a village elder - what message he had for the global community, he replied: ‘I pray we all live in peace and that conflicts all over the world are solved’.”
The UN estimates that conflict in Darfur has forced over 2 million people to leave their homes. This means that 1 in 3 Darfuris have fled their homes and sought safety in camps, old buildings or makeshift shelters.
The situation has become so severe that around half of Darfur’s population are dependent on humanitarian aid for survival. Yet, the instability has made it dangerous for aid agencies to work in the region.
“The situation is becoming difficult and we are under pressure to pull out,” says Jehangir Malik, Islamic Relief UK Manager, “But these people need our help and our generous donors from the UK want us to help.”
IR in Darfur
A young Darfuri girl holding a baby
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken shelter in camps dotted across Darfur and in neighbouring Chad. Host communities in these areas have also been affected by the conflict and are struggling to cope with the influx of displaced people.
Islamic Relief (IR) has been working in El Geneina in west Darfur since 2004. IR runs Kerinding II camp, which is home to over 10,000 displaced people. IR also carries out projects to support the host community.
“Visiting Sudan was indeed a humbling experience,” said Sami, “I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit areas affected by poverty and conflict and witnessed firsthand the great work being undertaken by Islamic Relief in Darfur - truly ‘a worldwide leader in alleviating poverty’.”
Peace Concert for Darfur
Sami Yusuf is headlining a Peace Concert for Darfur, which has been organised by Awakenings Entertainment and Islamic Relief (IR). The aim of the concert is to raise awareness about the crisis in Darfur and and how IR is supporting people affected by conflict.
The concert will take place this Sunday 21 October and has been called the ‘Muslim Live 8’. Sami Yusuf is headlining the event and other artists performing include Outlandish and Kareem Salama.
“I have always been passionate about the humanitarian crises afflicting our globe,” Sami explains, “As an artist, I am keen to use my music not only for the purposes of sheer entertainment but also to bring about awareness about the humanitarian plight of many who are less fortunate than us. At the same time I strive to promote a message of hope for a better and brighter future for all.”