Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Tortuous Journey to the Coast; PART Two of Our New Series Focusing on the Multicultural Make-Up of the Coffs Coast

Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Tortuous Journey to the Coast; PART Two of Our New Series Focusing on the Multicultural Make-Up of the Coffs Coast

Article excerpt

Byline: Belinda Scott belinda.scott@coffscoastadvocate.com.au

LARGE family groups characterise the Coffs Coast's resident Sudanese migrants who currently number about 250.

The first Sudanese migrants arrived in Coffs Harbour in 1997.

Their arrival followed the visit of a Sudanese Catholic priest who spent time in the city in 1994 looking for support for his people who were being displaced from their homes in Southern Sudan by civil war and unrest.

His visit was sponsored by the Australian Council of Churches.

Those first Sudanese arrivals were sponsored by a local refugee support group which had formed in 1988.

The majority of local Sudanese residents are Christian, although there are now two Muslim families.

More recent arrivals on the Coffs Coast from Sudan have come through an Australian Government migrant resettlement program, with the Coffs Coast agency of Anglicare assisting.

Victoria Akek, who arrived in Coffs Harbour four years ago, came to the Coast as part of this program.

Like many local Sudanese, the trip from her native country to the Coffs Coast was a tortuous one.

Victoria was about 19 when she, her brothers and sister, fled their country.

They lived in Wau, a city in southern Sudan ruled by the government, which rebels were trying to take over and which saw extensive fighting.

"Fighters in a city is a most terrible thing - there is nowhere to hide," Victoria said.

"You get suspected by both sides as spies or rebels.

"If they suspect you they take you away. …

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