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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Mall site of mock refugee camp

    Students can experience the common sights of a refugee camp and learn how they can help refugees in Tucson at a simulation displayed on the UA Mall, which started yesterday and continues today.

    The mock camp was created by the Tucson office of the International Rescue Committee, an organization that responds to emergency situations, creates refugee camps and provides education to refugees overseas and helps them resettle in the U.S.

    The camp included a makeshift tent, latrine and fire pit for cooking to raise students’ awareness of the refugee community in Tucson, said Shalom Miquirray, a political science junior who volunteers for the IRC.

    “”We want to make people more aware of refugees, their plight and what they have to go through,”” Miquirray said.

    There are more than 14 million refugees and internally displaced people fleeing war, political upheaval or persecution because of their race, nationality, religion, political opinion or identification with a social group, according to the IRC.

    When refugees come to Tucson, the IRC helps them obtain housing and employment and provides English tutoring, financial planning, child care, mental health care and other services, Bailey said.

    “”Students can do a lot to help out these families,”” said Miquirray, who is an English tutor for refugee families in Tucson.

    Miquirray said tutoring refugee families has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of her life.

    Stefanie Woodward, a sophomore majoring in anthropology and international studies, is also an IRC volunteer and works with refugee children in Tucson.

    “”It’s great. The kids are so much fun and over time you can see them speaking English better,”” Woodward said.

    The federal government is allowing 70,000 refugees from around the world to resettle in the U.S. this year, said Karen Bailey, resource developer for the IRC in Tucson.

    About 500 refugees out of the 70,000 will resettle in Tucson in 2006, Bailey said.

    “”We want to make the community aware that there are actually refugees living in Tucson,”” Bailey said.

    There are about 400 to 500 refugees who settle here every year and about 250 of them will be brought by the IRC, she said.

    The majority of refugees who resettled in Arizona last year were from Iraq, Somalia, Liberia, Sudan and Afghanistan, according to the IRC.

    Bailey said she wanted UA students to experience a simulated refugee camp after she had seen one in Phoenix.

    In the simulation, she went into a latrine that doubled as a shower but didn’t understand how it was used. The experience reminded her that some refugees often don’t know how to use dishwashers or toilets in the U.S.

    “”They aren’t accustomed to our ways of doing things,”” Bailey said.

    Although refugee camps are drastically different living experiences than students are used to, they aren’t necessarily bad places to live, Bailey said.

    Most refugee camps are intended to be short-term settlements, said Janet Rabin, AmeriCorps*VISTA community outreach coordinator.

    They also displayed a sample of a typical daily food ration for a person at a refugee camp, which includes cornmeal, beans, salt, sugar and oil.

    Rabin said the IRC will be collecting donations of school supplies and toiletries on the UA Mall tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday and at the Yuma and Apache-Santa Cruz residence halls during the hall closing this semester.

    The IRC and the refugee camp simulation will be on the UA Mall today from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

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