Ibrahim is a member of the Fur tribe—the Darfur region of Sudan bears its name. He lived there for the first twelve years of his life, until 2003, when his village was attacked by the Janjaweed.
Twenty cars and fifty men on horseback arrived in Ibrahim’s village at 4am one fateful morning, staging an attack that would devastate the village and leave his grandfather and sister dead. “They set the region on fire, and we fled to the mountains. We stayed there for three weeks.”
When he returned to his village, it was empty. The residents had either been killed or had left; all of those who survived went to Kassab, a camp for IDPs. He stayed there for two days, but even the camps were not safe. The Janjaweed started kidnapping able bodied men, so Ibrahim returned to the mountains, visiting the camp under the cover of night to see his family.
He eventually decided to move to Khartoum, where he worked in order to earn enough money to apply for his passport. While waiting, he met his wife who was working in a restaurant close to where he was staying. They married and now have two girls.
Even in Khartoum, Ibrahim and his family were not safe. Still persecuted for his ethnicity, the family’s home was attacked. Ibrahim was taken to the police station where he was beaten with sticks, electrocuted, and had his fingertips crushed with pinchers. The accusation? Opposing the government. Grounds for accusation? Belonging to the Fur tribe.
Ibrahim was held in detention for a month, and was released on the condition of not leaving Khartoum or returning to Darfur. He had to check in to the police station every two days.
New passport in hand, Ibrahim and his family fled to Cairo where they applied for refugee status with UNHCR on January 1st, 2013.
To make matters worse, his family had a hard time integrating into Egyptian life, finding the language differences to be a significant barrier and encountering racism and accusations of taking resources away from Egyptians. Despite the difficult living conditions in Egypt, returning to Sudan was not an option as Ibrahim’s life would be at risk.
Finally contacted to have their resettlement interview in November 2014, the process for Ibrahim and his family to go to America was recently completed, and by time of publication they will be in America.
Ibrahim said he is looking forward to living in freedom and democracy, but mostly he is happy for his girls to have a better opportunity than they would have had in Egypt or Sudan. “In Sudan, even if my daughter was the top of her class at school, another child would get preference simply because my child is Fur.”
He is eager to start English lessons and learn some new skills to support his family. He eventually wants to reunify his family who are currently scattered around Sudan.
“Sudan is my home country. I would love to go back, but only if the regime changes.”