Daily Archives: December 12, 2003

A Refugee's Plight

Tonight we got an e-mail from the Cameroon.  It contained some news that has caused me a lot of sadness and frustration.  The news is about two friends of my son who our church decided to sponsor as refugees.  These guys and my son were as close as brothers.  And like most teenagers, they hung out around our house a lot, so they became our friends as well.

 

Five years ago these two friends of my oldest son fled on foot from the Congo when the civil war was forcing people to live in fear, most fleeing into the forest.  These guys walked about 300 kms to the neighboring country of the Central African Republic.  They were prime conscript age at the time and they did not want to take sides in the fighting.  Besides, they were well acquainted with one of the big generals in Mobutu’s army through my son and soccer connections.  This was one of the main generals implicated in the massacre of students down in Lubumbashi in the later part of Mobutu’s term of power.  This was not a good guy to be acquainted with at a time like that and they needed to get out of the country. 

 

About three years ago, they got a message to travel to the Cameroon to be present for an interview with the immigration authorities concerning their application for immigration to Canada as refugees.  At the time civil war was brewing in the Central African Republic and they managed to leave that country just in time before the border was closed to the Cameroon. 

 

Three years ago.  They had their interviews.  They are still waiting, in spite the fact that the consulate requested that they stay in the area of Yaounde, Cameroon so they could be contacted.  About a year or so ago, Yaunde (Kamu) got word that he had been accepted as a refugee applicant pending his medical and security clearance.  This process should take about three to six months.  He is still waiting without receiving any word.  Massa has heard nothing.

 

Now these guys have been away from home for five years homeless and without family around them.  The closest to family have been one or two missionary families that were re-stationed in Cameroon after leaving the Congo. 

 

Tonight we got the word that Massa‘s father has died.  Death is the single most important event in  Congolese society.  To be absent is a major absence.  It is not normal in that society to let anything keep you away from going to the funeral or at least to go and sit on the death with the family.  I do not know what Massa will do.  This news is going to be heart wrenching for him.  I do not know but I can see him giving up and trying to go home.  But he has no money to travel and little to return to in his own country. 

 

And I am angry at the slowness the unnecessarily slow bureaucracy of our Canadian government as it deals with refugees.  Especially those who have already been sponsored by a non-governmental group.  God help us all for our collective injustice.

 

So this is going to be a long night of prayer.  I do not know what else to do. 

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