Rabbi Abie Ingber, founding director of Xavier University’s Office of Interfaith Community Engagement will return from a two-week trip to Darfur's refugee camps on Friday night.
Ingber was invited to join the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) for a very high level visitfrom March 9-20. “As a child of Holocaust survivors I know I have to go,” Ingber said. “It is not that my eyes are better than anyone else’s, nor that I have any talent to offer, but my voice is trusted. And with all seriousness, if someone hears my stories and does know what to do, I want to inspire them to save these thousands and thousands of people in Darfur from certain tragedy.”
Just yesterday, March 18, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton named retired Air Force Gen. J. Scott Gration to be a special envoy to war-wracked Sudan. In his announcement of the appointment, the president said, “I have worked closely and directly with General Gration for several years, and have traveled with him to refugee camps in Chad filled with those who were displaced by the genocide in Darfur. He is a valued personal friend and I am pleased he has accepted this assignment. He knows the region, has broad experience, and has my complete confidence. Standing alongside Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice, his appointment is a strong signal of my Administration’s commitment to support the people of Sudan while seeking a lasting settlement to the violence that has claimed so many innocent lives.”
HIAS, founded in 1881, helped Ingber’s parents and other refugees come to the U.S. after the war. Then as Jewish needs waned, it became one of the premiere refugee and immigration entities worldwide. Their work in Chad with Darfur refugees, in concert with the UNHCR (United NationsHighCommissionerforRefugees), is primarily psycho-social, helping refugees deal with trauma and preparing them to re-enter the world. It also offers traditional humanitarian aid, something which has been banned by the Sudanese government. HIAS includes a worldwide staff of more than 100 employees, 57 people who sit on the board of directors, and a support base of over 14,000 generous individuals. All work together towards a common goal: rescue Jews and others in peril around the world, reunite families in freedom, and enable newcomers to build new lives with hope and prosperity.
“I believe this is an important opportunity for the Xavier community to have one of its own go and see up close what is happening on the ground,” Ingber said. “This is a very rough trip. We will spend some nights sleeping in the compound attached to the camp, and we can expect small planes and long Jeep rides. The UNHCR provides the security (for what it is worth) and I will be with HIAS CEO Gideon Aronoffof New Yorkand HIAS Vice President Sandy Spinner of Cincinnati. That’s it, no group, just us with their local head of operations in the camps. I will take digital cameras, digital audio recorders, batteries, malaria pills and a mosquito net.”