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Chicago Bulls star, a Sudan native, appeals for help for Darfur
CHICAGO – Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng said he hopes his televised appeal during the fifth game of the NBA finals will offer Americans an opportunity to learn more about the crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan and how they can help its victims.
The 21-year-old, 6-foot-9 native of Sudan will star in a public service announcement seeking support for Sudanese relief efforts. The spot will air for the first time Sunday on Chicago’s WLS-TV during the game between the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks; NBC-TV has also committed to airing the piece.
“The situation in Darfur is a lot worse than what people know,” said Deng, a member of the Dinka tribe in southern Sudan. His family moved to the United States when he was 5 years old to escape a civil war.
“My father knew what was coming and wanted a better life for his nine children. I’m here because I was lucky,” Deng said.
Fighting in Darfur began in February 2003 when rebels from black African tribes took up arms, complaining of discrimination and oppression by Sudan’s Arab-dominated government.
The government has been accused of unleashing Arab tribal militias against civilians in a campaign of murder, rape and arson. At least 180,000 people have died – many from hunger and disease. More than 2 million have fled their homes, many to neighboring countries where stability has been threatened by Darfur’s chaos.
“A lot has been hidden. It’s like all the genocides of the past. People are just guessing at how many have been massacred. The more we look, the higher we’ll actually find those numbers,” said Deng, who played one year at Duke University before being drafted in 2004.
The Bulls and NBA worked with the World Food Program to produce the promotion aimed at gaining financial assistance for refugees and other victims of the Darfur crisis. It was filmed earlier this month at the Bulls practice facility in Deerfield, and Deng said he hopes it inspires some of those watching the NBA finals to do what they can to help.
“A dollar is almost a week’s worth of food for someone. There are a lot of people with good hearts out there who just need to know there’s something they can do,” Deng said.
ON THE NET
World Food Program: http://www.friendsofwfp.org
© 2006 AP Wire and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.