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Chicago Bulls support ninemillion campaign

News Stories, 15 February 2008

© UNHCR/B.Smith
Luol Deng takes a rest between scoring points for the Chicago Bulls.

CHICAGO, United States, February 15 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency and its campaign to bring education to millions of displaced children was centre stage make that centre court this week as Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng pledged to donate US$50 to ninemillion.org for every basket he scores this season.

The British basketball star's donation will help provide education and schools for children in South Sudan, where Deng was born and from where he and his family fled civil war 20 years ago.

Ahead of a game here Thursday evening between the Bulls and the Miami Heat, Bulls' vice-president of business operations, Steve Schanwald, "tipped-off" the team's fund-raising efforts by presenting a check for US$10,000 to UNHCR's Greg Millar, who was accompanied by a group of children from South Sudan.

"The donation from the Chicago Bulls is a great way to begin Luol's campaign to help provide education, sport and water for refugee children in southern Sudan," said Millar, UNHCR's regional private sector fund-raising officer.

"I thank the Bulls and Luol on behalf of these children and hope many supporters will join the ninemillion.org campaign. Every basket that Luol scores will make a difference in the lives of these children," he added.

The contribution from CharitaBulls, the Chicago Bulls' non-profit organization, will go towards building and equipping a classroom in a school which Deng is building in South Sudan.

Deng was only three years old when his family fled Sudan's growing civil war for Egypt. It was there, he said, that he first picked up a basketball. Several years later, the family was granted political asylum in the United Kingdom and moved to London. Deng played in a local basketball league and his skills soon brought him to the attention of an American scout.

Speaking ahead of Thursday's game, which he missed due to an injury, Deng called on others to join him in supporting the ninemillion.org campaign. "Twenty years of war in South Sudan has destroyed so much. But today thousands of people are returning to their homes and communities. Now is the time to help."

Earlier this week, the UN refugee agency launched an appeal for US$63 million to fund its operations this year in South Sudan, including organizing the voluntary return and reintegration of 80,000 Sudanese refugees now living in neighbouring countries.

Since the signing of a peace agreement in 2005, more than 169,000 Sudanese refugees and an estimated 1.9 million internally displaced Sudanese have returned home.

Ninemillion.org is committed to giving refugee youth the chance to learn and play, recognizing that education and sport can improve their lives. The campaign is focused on all aspects of a child's educational needs, including school supplies, teacher salaries, recreational programmes, nutrition and transportation. Particular emphasis is put on getting girls into the classroom.

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Battling the Elements in Chad

More than 180,000 Sudanese refugees have fled violence in Sudan's Darfur region, crossing the border to the remote desert of eastern Chad.

It is one of the most inhospitable environments UNHCR has ever had to work in. Vast distances, extremely poor road conditions, scorching daytime temperatures, sandstorms, the scarcity of vegetation and firewood, and severe shortages of drinkable water have been major challenges since the beginning of the operation. Now, heavy seasonal rains are falling, cutting off the few usable roads, flooding areas where refugees had set up makeshift shelters, and delaying the delivery of relief supplies.

Despite the enormous environmental challenges, UNHCR has so far managed to establish nine camps and relocate the vast majority of the refugees who are willing to move from the volatile border.

Battling the Elements in Chad

Southerners on the move before Sudanese vote

Ahead of South Sudan's landmark January 9, 2011 referendum on independence, tens of thousands of southern Sudanese in the North packed their belongings and made the long trek south. UNHCR set up way stations at key points along the route to provide food and shelter to the travellers during their arduous journey. Several reports of rapes and attacks on travellers reinforced the need for these reception centres, where women, children and people living with disabilities can spend the night. UNHCR has made contingency plans in the event of mass displacement after the vote, including the stockpiling of shelter and basic provisions for up to 50,000 people.

Southerners on the move before Sudanese vote

Chad: Relocation from the Border to Refugee Camps

Since fighting broke out in Sudan's western region of Darfur last year, more than 110,000 Sudanese refugees have fled into Chad. They are scattered along a 600-km stretch of desert borderland under a scorching sun during the day and freezing temperatures during the night.

Access to these refugees in this inhospitable region is difficult. Staff of the UN refugee agency drive for days to locate them. Bombing in the border zone and cross-border raids by militia from Sudan put the refugees at risk and underscore the urgent need to move them to camps in the interior. In addition, the approach of the rainy season in May will make the sandy roads impassable. Aid workers are racing against time in an attempt bring emergency relief to these refugees.

Chad: Relocation from the Border to Refugee Camps

South Sudan: Helping the Most VulnerablePlay video

South Sudan: Helping the Most Vulnerable

UNHCR comes to the assistance of older, disabled and sickly Sudanese refugees arriving in Yusuf Batil Camp.
Sudan: A Perilous RoutePlay video

Sudan: A Perilous Route

Kassala camp in eastern Sudan provides shelter to thousands of refugees from Eritrea. Many of them pass through the hands of ruthless and dangerous smugglers.
Sudan: Heading for a New HomePlay video

Sudan: Heading for a New Home

UNHCR is offering to help move hundreds of people from Sudan to newly independent South Sudan, where they will build new lives. Almost 250 families with ties to the south are waiting for a ride.