• Text size Normal size text | Increase text size by 10% | Increase text size by 20% | Increase text size by 30%

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.




Bonga Camp, Ethiopia

Bonga camp is located in the troubled Gambella region of western Ethiopia. But it remains untouched by the ethnic conflicts that have torn nearby Gambella town and Fugnido camp in the last year.

For Bonga's 17,000 Sudanese refugees, life goes on despite rumblings in the region. Refugee children continue with school and play while their parents make ends meet by supplementing UNHCR assistance with self-reliance projects.

Cultural life is not forgotten, with tribal ceremonies by the Uduk majority. Other ethnic communities – Shuluks, Nubas and Equatorians – are welcome too, judging by how well hundreds of newcomers have settled in after their transfer from Fugnido camp in late 2002.

Bonga Camp, Ethiopia

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

South Sudan: Preparing for Long-Awaited Returns

The signing of a peace agreement between the Sudanese government and the army of the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement on 9 January, 2005, ended 21 years of civil war and signaled a new era for southern Sudan. For some 4.5 million uprooted Sudanese – 500,000 refugees and 4 million internally displaced people – it means a chance to finally return home.

In preparation, UNHCR and partner agencies have undertaken, in various areas of South Sudan, the enormous task of starting to build some basic infrastructure and services which either were destroyed during the war or simply had never existed. Alongside other UN agencies and NGOs, UNHCR is also putting into place a wide range of programmes to help returnees re-establish their lives.

These programs include road construction, the building of schools and health facilities, as well as developing small income generation programmes to promote self-reliance.

South Sudan: Preparing for Long-Awaited Returns

South Sudan: A Long Walk in Search of Safety Play video

South Sudan: A Long Walk in Search of Safety

Years of fighting between Sudan and rebel forces have sent more than 240,000 people fleeing to neighbouring South Sudan, a country embroiled in its own conflict. After weeks on foot, Amal Bakith and her five children are settling in at Ajoung Thok refugee camp where they receive food, shelter, access to education and land.
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.