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Following the murder of his brother, and after witnessing the destruction of nearby villages by Darfur’s brutal Janjaweed militia, Daoud Ibrahaem Hari fled his native Sudan in 2003. Hari, 34, eventually gained refugee status in Chad, which borders Sudan to the west. There, Hari became known for his work translating Arabic into English for nonprofit organizations and journalists. But helping NBC News, the BBC, and The New York Times cover the genocide in his former country eventually landed Hari in trouble. He was captured, tortured, and used as a political tool by Chadian forces. Still, it was his ties to journalists and nonprofit groups that grabbed the attention of lobbyists at Holland & Knight, who helped Hari escape. Last month, Hari became just the third refugee from Darfur to resettle in the United States since the genocide began four years ago. Currently, there is no major U.S. resettlement program for refugees from Darfur. Hari hopes his voice will change that and bring more attention to his homeland. “The genocide is very active and real in Darfur,” Hari says. “I want to keep talking about what has been happening for three, four years in Darfur. I need someone to stop the blood running in Darfur and Chad.” FRIENDS AND FOES Hari was one of thousands of people who fled Sudan after government forces, and the allied Janjaweed Arab militias, began fighting with local rebel groups in Darfur over the allocation of water, arable land, and other precious resources. Since 2003, at least 200,000 people have been killed and 2 million others displaced, according to United Nations statistics. Some of that conflict spread to Chad, where Hari had hoped to put his life back together. The English he picked up by speaking with people who traveled to the area helped Hari get work as an interpreter for relief workers and reporters. On a hot, musty day last August, Hari was sitting in the front seat of a vehicle guiding Chicago Tribune reporter Paul Salopek as they traveled in Sudan along the Chadian border town of Bahai. Salopek was on a freelance assignment covering the region for National Geographic magazine. Without warning, government militiamen stopped the vehicle and pulled out Hari, Salopek, and their Chadian driver. The three were held in captivity for more than a month in Sudan, where Hari says he was beaten and punched repeatedly during interrogations. “The torture was unbelievable,” Hari said in a phone interview from New Jersey, where he lives. “I couldn’t move my arms or legs.” Salopek was later allowed to contact the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum and, upon hearing that the reporter was being held hostage, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson traveled to Darfur to lobby for his release. All three detainees were released, but Hari was sent back to Chad, where he faced continuous persecution because of his work with journalists. Using a cell phone, Hari called a nongovernmental organization he once worked for as an interpreter in Chadian refugee camps. Officials there contacted Holland & Knight’s Christopher Nugent, senior counsel with the firm’s pro bono community services team. In early October, the law and lobbying firm began its appeal to get Hari out of Chad. “When I first heard of the case, I was deeply touched,” says Nugent, who called U.S. government officials and wrote requests to get Hari out of Chad. Holland & Knight has something of a reputation for getting refugees out of dangerous situations, having secured asylum for people from Vietnam and Iraq. One of its most noted refugee cases involved that of Iraqi attorney Mohammed Al-Rehaief, who fled the country with his wife after the pair aided the U.S. military in the 2003 rescue of American soldier Jessica Lynch. Nugent says the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees played a vital role in protecting Hari while he was in Chad — though threats to Hari’s life continued. In one incident, a Chadian officer hit Hari in the head, giving him an injury that left his ears ringing. He was sent to a medical clinic for treatment. But with the help of the United Nations in December, Hari was able to flee to Accra, Ghana, via Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. There he was interviewed by the Department of Homeland Security for refugee status and then by the FBI and the CIA for background checks. In February, Hari finally gained clearance to enter the United States. On March 15, he arrived at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York during a snowstorm. According to the U.S. State Department, the White House proposes to admit 22,000 refugees from Africa this year. Of those, an estimated 6,000 have already been approved — they include Eritreans and Sudanese currently in Ethiopia and Sudanese and Somalis in Kenya. Hari has already spoken at events in New York to publicize the plight of Sudanese refugees. Nugent says Hari will eventually serve as a face to lobby for Darfur refugees on Capitol Hill. “We managed to get him out without congressional intervention,” Nugent says. “He wants to tell his story to policy-makers.” Hari, in a slow and calm tone, says he is ready to lobby on behalf of his lost brother and the millions who have suffered in the conflict. Says Hari: “Words cannot say how grateful I am to all the people in so many countries who have helped me find protection in the United States.” — Osita Iroegbu
D.C. MONEY USED FOR MORE PUBLIC INTEREST LAWYERS The money is finally rolling in for legal aid in the District. The D.C. Bar Foundation made decisions this month concerning the $3.2 million grant allocation from the D.C. City Council. The foundation doled out nearly $2.9 million of the original amount after factoring out $250,000 for a loan repayment program for lawyers coming into legal services as well as about $60,000 in overhead costs. Though exact amounts have yet to be finalized, the grantees are gearing up to put more lawyers on the streets. University Legal Services, the federally mandated advocate for disabled residents in D.C., were granted $109,000 to hire a lawyer to advocate for increased treatment and other services for mentally ill inmates in the D.C. jail, where two inmates suffering from mental problems recently committed suicide. The nonprofit will partner with the D.C. Prisoners’ Project for training and possibly as co-counsel to help mentally ill inmates. “The jails in this country have become de facto psych wards,” says ULS executive director Jane Brown. Several other groups will use the grants to reach more people in poor communities. Legal Counsel for the Elderly pulled in $82,000 in grant money for home visits to elderly clients in impoverished neighborhoods. Ayuda, in partnership with the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, will receive $92,000 for two lawyers to staff a multi-lingual intake center. D.C. Law Students in Court will get $86,000 to increase its staff. In addition, four legal-aid groups plan to use their grant money to add lawyers and offices in the Southeast and Northeast areas of the city. The grants include $193,000 for the Children’s Law Center, $422,000 for the Legal Aid Society, $540,000 for Neighborhood Legal Services, $120,000 for the Whitman Walker Legal Clinic, and $141,000 for Bread for the City. — Attila Berry
The Common Good is a monthly column devoted to the pro bono community. Attila Berry can be contacted at [email protected].

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