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Dossier Veiligheid

“Studying in Tilburg is a huge relief”

Mohammed Elgizoly Adam from Darfur about being a refugee student

Mohammed’s road to becoming a Global Law student at Tilburg University was very different from most other students’. Here is his story.

Mohammed Adam

Millions of people from all over the world have fled their homes and countries. Mohammed Elgizoly Adam is one of them. His hometown lies in Darfur, the western province of Sudan. “It was the best place on Earth, but I couldn’t live there anymore.” He fled his home in 2008, lived in refugee camps in Kenya for several years before making his way to the Netherlands in November 2012.

Mohammed Adam graduated from Juba University in South Sudan with a degree in Community Studies and Rural Development. He worked as a protection officer for the Sudan Social Development Organisation for two years before he fled his country. When Mohammed arrived in the Netherlands, he was supported by the Foundation for Refugee Students (UAF) to do one year of high school, equivalent to VWO (pre-university education). With this VWO-certificate, he enrolled in the Bachelor’s program of Global Law.

On studying in Tilburg

He started his Global Law Bachelor at Tilburg University this year. “I still can’t believe I am living this life,” he says. He is very enthusiastic about the Global Law program: “It is a very interesting Bachelor. I am very impressed by the whole program, the design of the curriculum, the teachers, the Blackboard system. Why I chose this Bachelor’s program? I have seen the world from another perspective; I chose the legal perspective to be able to understand the world. International law can and should be able to have stronger ways to prevent countries from forcing their inhabitants to become refugees.”

On being a refugee

Mohammed is a ‘resettled refugee’: the Dutch government and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) picked him and 69 others to leave the refugee camp in Kenya and come to the Netherlands to get an education and start a new life.

“You wouldn’t have believed your eyes if you had seen how people live in refugee camps. Hundreds of thousands of people live in these camps, but there are no services, no food, nothing. I am very grateful for everything the UAF and the Dutch government have done for me. I have the best house I’ve ever dreamed of, I am able to study, and I live a safe and normal life. But it doesn’t feel like that. I wish I could enjoy it more. This is very hard to explain to the host community. Only a refugee can understand. You know, a refugee either becomes mentally ill or he becomes stronger. There is nothing in between, after an experience like that. The best part of the day is when I am at the university. Studying in Tilburg is a huge relief.”

“My advice to people who want to help refugees is to push your governments to help instable countries become stable, to prevent that people have to become refugees in the first place. After that, the UAF is one of the best organizations that help refugees. Go to the website, www.uaf.nl/home/english, and see what you can do.”

“The biggest problems are in the countries that are deemed to be the source of refugees and in the regions where refugees live in huge refugee camps. From Darfur alone, 300,000 refugees live in camps in Chad and another two million are internally displaced in Darfur. It took me five years in Africa to reach Europe. The problem is not here; it is over there.”

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