King tells former Sudanese refugees ‘I’m so glad you’re safe here’
The King has sympathised with former refugees who escaped by boat to Europe from the Darfur genocide telling them “I’m so glad you’re safe here”.
Charles chatted with accountants, NHS consultants and charity workers who have made a new life for themselves in the UK, after a Sudanese activist asked him to meet her community.
He told the group of men and women who fled the mass killings which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives when pro-government Janjaweed militia went on the rampage: “It’s been a very special visit for me, I can assure you.
“It’s been such a pleasure to meet you all – I’m so glad you’re safe here.”
The civil war in the Darfur region of Sudan erupted in 2003 with the black African farming community persecuted by the Arab militia who destroyed villages, murdered civilians and used rape as a weapon of war, with conflict still continuing today.
Debay Manees, 32, chatted to the King and later described the guilt he feels at having left friends in 2015 who may not have survived.
Mr Manees: “I was working as a teacher when I was targeted. I was arrested and they accused me of being a spy, I had no choice either I left or they would kill me.
“For me I feel guilty because the people I left are suffering, the mates I left in prison – the same thing is going on.”
He travelled to neighbouring Libya but the country was not safe and so he paid smugglers to make the perilous journey by boat to Italy before stowing away on a goods train to enter the UK.
The 32-year-old, who now works supporting his community as a charity worker, said about the boat trip: “I wasn’t scared. I was desperate. I had to get away, to get out, I had no choice.”
He added: “To stop displaced people coming to Europe you must stop the war in Sudan. The UK and the other countries must try to stop the war. Kids are dying in the Mediterranean during the crossing.”
Sudanese activist Amouna Adam invited Charles to meet her community when she joined the monarch and Queen Consort as they lit candles at Buckingham Palace to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
The event was organised by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and the human rights organisation Waging Peace at a central London venue used for events by the UK’s Sudanese community.
Ms Adam, who in 2009 for sought sanctuary in the UK in 2009 with her husband and two sons, said: “When I invited the King here I was very excited but I was surprised he came.”
Rebecca Tinsley, president and founder of Waging Peace, described the King’s visit to meet the former refugees as “significant” adding “this is the kind of King I hope he’s going to be”.
She added: “This room is full of doctors and accountants who have brought their skills to this country and they want to build this country – there’s not a single scrounger in this room.”
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