The University Record, January 21, 2002

Refugees share experiences

From the International Institute

Nooria Popal (left) discusses her experiences as a refugee from Afghanistan. Panel participants Jennifer Marsh (center) and Patrice Page (right) described what they faced as aid workers in Afghanistan. (Photo by Paul Jaronski, U-M Photo Services)
Afghan refugees and aid workers shared their experiences and answered questions Jan. 17 at a panel discussion, following the opening reception of the photography exhibit, “Afghanistan: Civilians at Risk—Humanitarian and Personal Perspectives.” The photos will be on display in the International Institute Gallery in the School of Social Work Building through Jan. 31.

Nooria Popal, a member of the former royal family of Afghanistan, spoke on the many human rights abuses she witnessed while in Afghanistan before she fled for India in 1986. Among the horrors, Popal said she saw women’s hands being cut off simply because they were wearing jewelry. Maroofa Ahmadi and Masooma Ahmadi detailed how members of their family were shot and killed by the Taliban. Other panelists included Serena Chaudhry, U-M alumna in the School of Social Work and School of Public Health; Jennifer Marsh, external relations officer of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees; and Patrice Page, Doctors Without Borders.

The event was sponsored by the International Institute; Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs; Office of Academic and Multicultural Initiatives, the School of Social Work; the Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture and Health. Additional support came from the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, Center for South Asian Studies, Muslim Students Association, and the Office of Community-Based Public Health.

The event was part of the International Institute’s “Religion, Security and Violence in Global Contexts” initiative. For more information visit the Web at