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November 25, 2003
Issue 11 

Feature Article

RESPECT Supports Refugee

by Martin Zeilig
Winnipeg Free Press,
November 4, 2003

AS the founder and international co-ordinator of RESPECT International, Marc Schaeffer is helping to "build bridges between non-refugee students and refugee students" around the world through pen-pal letter exchanges.

Schaeffer, 33, a teacher in the literacy program at Stevenson Britannia Adult High School in St. James, began RESPECT (Refugee Education Sponsorship Program: Enhancing Communities Together) two years ago after seeing the work being done at the Winnipeg Refugee Education Network.

"It (WREN) does all kinds of great work raising funds for refugee-related charities and generally building awareness of refugee issues among people in Winnipeg. It also sponsors refugees (who move here)," says Schaeffer, whose wife, Kae Sasaki, is artistic director of RESPECT.

"At one point, I really wanted to help refugee communities directly in the refugee camps worldwide."

Besides the letter exchanges, RESPECT's other two stated goals are to increase awareness of refugee issues among non-refugee students in participating countries, and to encourage students to raise some funds for their sponsored refugee school. <<more>>

Plight of Tibetan Refugees

In a report on refugees in India, U.S. Committee for Refugees records that in 1999, the Tibetan refugee population in India marked its 40th year in exile, led by their spiritual leader His Holiness The Dalai Lama. His Holiness fled to India in 1959 after China forcibly occupied Tibet. India allowed Tibetans to establish their own administration based in the city of Dharamsala in northern India, which functions as the Tibetan government in exile.

The number of refugees in India has fluctuated, since many of the original refugee population died, children have been born in refugee settlements and thousands more arrive from Tibet annually. In 1999, more than 110,000 Tibetan refugees lived in India. Some 2,200 Tibetans arrived in India during that year, via Nepal, which they access mainly via the Nangpa pass. However, Nepal has recently begun to deport Tibetan refugees from Nepal instead of allowing them to transit via Nepal to India. The Tibet Information Network reports that at least 15 Tibetans are known to have been repatriated from Nepalese border areas since 25 November 2001. The Nepalese stopped granting legal refugee status to Tibetans who arrived in Nepal from Tibet after December 1989. As a result of increasing trade links between Nepal and China refugees are currently being forcibly deported.

Although India continues to allow Tibetan refugees to enter, it has not granted legal residence to most of those who have arrived in the recent years. Tibetan refugees are facing a plethora of difficulties, which are making their chances of escaping persecution and in may cases torture, in Tibet, even more slim.

Announcements

RESPECT Annual Poster Contest

Contest Theme: "Crossing Borders-Stretching My World"
Deadline: March 1, 2004
Visit the RESPECT websitefor details!

2003 - "Crossing Boundaries - Breman Peace Award" Awarded To Andrew Greene As Co-Ordinator Of iEARN Sierra Leone

Within the Bremen Peace Award procedure of the Threshold Foundation, theThreshold will publish in November a book "The Courage to Cross Thresholds" containing 29 examples of convincing examples of international peace work, among them also a presentation of Andrew Green's commitment within iEARN Sierra Leone. An online version of the book can be found in December at Threshold Foundation. To learn more, go to http://www.iearn.org, or http://www.iearnsierraleone.org.

Gallery

Samuel Boateng of Mohomou Refugee School sent Judy Huynh a beautiful dress in appreciation of a shipment of soccer balls students at Palo Community School sent to MRS in Guinea, West Africa.

Judy Huynh in a beautiful dress from Guinea, West Africa

As in any newsletter or magazine, RESPECT e-zine is committed to striving for interesting articles and announcements concerning refugee issues all around the world.

If you have any suggestions or would like to contribute an article, contact the e-zine editor, Sumeera Rasul at editor@respectrefugees.org.

To be removed from our mailing list, please send an email to editor@respectrefugees.org.