Health and Reparations Project (HARP)

IJP, their Darfurian allies and Boston College’s Institute for the Liberal Arts launched the Health and Reparations Project (HARP) on October 23, 2012 at Boston College. IJP Co-Founders Wanda Akin and Raymond Brown presented on the forgotten genocide in Darfur, the need for transitional justice for the Darfurian people and launched HARP to more than 100 people, including Boston College students and faculty, IJP partner organizations, NGOs, human rights activists from the region, friends and family.

This webpage will be updated regularly with HARP’s progress so be sure to come back to follow our success!

Read below to find out more about HARP and click here to read the full HARP 2012 Project Launch Report.

What is HARP and what does the project entail?

HARP is a health and welfare audit of the Darfurian Diaspora living in the U.S. which will assess the conditions, needs, and desires of this population. The goal is to give voice to Darfurians, including the Diaspora, in the transitional justice process and inform the discussions on reparations both in the context of the ICC and as part of potential diplomatic solutions for the Darfur conflict.

We are partnering with Boston College’s Institute for the Liberal Arts, various NGO’s and other academic institutions to develop and conduct the assessment and analysis across the country. Under the leadership of our Marilyn S. Broad Fellow, we will determine how these health and other needs relate to reparations and impact the proceedings at the ICC.

What are the key objectives of HARP?

The key objectives of HARP are:

(1) To organize a health & welfare audit among selected North American Darfurian Diaspora communities to better understand their needs and the causes of the community-wide malaise, depression, and detachment;

(2) To galvanize public and private resources to provide immediate care to and address the needs of these individuals in the U.S. and eventually elsewhere in the Diaspora; and

(3) To serve as a catalyst for the development of a strategy to address reparations at the ICC proceedings with the expectation that this process and success can help develop a multifaceted approach to restorative justice, including examinations of restitution, compensation and rehabilitation in legal and diplomatic contexts.

(4) To establish interdisciplinary partnerships. Research on collective violence has typically been studied from two perspectives in the social sciences—the cultural (i.e., how orchestrated violence is culturally traumatic to a society) and the individual (i.e., how individuals cope with such violence). Utilizing interdisciplinary and social justice approaches, this project aims to bridge this divide, thereby translating, from the language of psychology and sociology to the language of law and politics, the harm caused to a traumatized community and that community’s vision for how the harm should be addressed.

How does the concept of reparations fit into this project?

We have been struck by the extent to which the interviewees ignored the fact that they may be entitled to receive reparations for the suffering they endured. The answer to our questioning why Darfurians wanted to participate as victims in the ICC proceedings was that they “wanted justice.” Not one person ever suggested to us that they were motivated by a desire to get something tangible in return.

At the same time, these victims, potential victims, and the intermediaries who introduced them to us often spoke of lost crops, animals, land, and sense of community. We know that the prevailing norms for reparations involve restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction, and guarantees of non-repetition. As lawyers with an understanding of human rights and humanitarian law, this work has prompted us to think about the fact that reparations are considered vital to traditional durable solutions for refugees, i.e., voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement. We are not convinced that present legal or political thought on reparations takes into account the type of loss of community and culture with which the Darfurian Diaspora is dealing. As the shape of reparations at the ICC is in the early stages, this project can function as a catalyst for developing a deeper approach to these issues.

How was the idea for HARP conceived?

A particularly gruesome attack was the attack on my aunt. She was pregnant and could not run away. A few attackers grabbed her and cut open her belly. They removed the fetus, stabbed it and then stabbed my aunt, killing both of them. Their dead bodies were inhumanely tossed into a burning house.

- Darfurian Victim Applicant “Y.E.”

Unfortunately, the above narrative is typical of the stories that we heard when we interviewed hundreds of Darfurians who fled the genocide in Darfur perpetrated by the country’s President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir. We began conducting these interviews in 2005, and afterward, our co-founders, Wanda Akin and Raymond Brown, began acting as Legal Representatives of Victims in the Darfur Situation and in the case against President Bashir at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The interviews took place in Europe, Africa, and largely, in the United States.

While working with members of this Diaspora, we noticed a community-wide malaise, detachment, and depression that had developed as a result of the trauma experienced by them in Darfur and the difficulties faced when adapting to a new environment as a refugee, asylee, or immigrant in a foreign country.

With Bashir and others subject to arrest warrants by the ICC still at large and with permanent comprehensive peace in Sudan proving difficult to achieve, we decided to look more closely at the Darfurian Diaspora’s situation and whether it would be possible to assist them in addressing the short- and long-term impacts of their condition now. We believe the answer is yes.

And, thus, the Health and Reparations Project (HARP) was born.

Our HARP Partners from Boston College’s Institute for the Liberal Arts:

Rhonda Frederick, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English and Director of the African and African Diaspora Studies Program. She specializes in Caribbean and African American literatures. Her scholarly interests include literatures of the Americas, particularly 20th Century women’s popular fiction, mystery/detective, and futurist fiction/fantasy writing. She is currently interested in the detective and/or futurist fiction of Nalo Hopkinson, Walter Mosley, Barbara Neely, and Colson Whitehead. Her first manuscript, “Colón Man a Come”: Mythographies of Panamá Canal Migration, examines the recurrent figure of the Panama Canal worker in Caribbean literature, song, and memoir.


C. Shawn McGuffey, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Sociology and African and African Diaspora Studies at Boson College. His research agenda examines the social psychology of family life and the experience of inter-personal trauma. His work primarily highlights how race, gender, and social class both constrain and create the choices survivors pursue in the aftermath of trauma. His two current projects focus on sexual trauma. One examines how gender, sexuality, and race shape parental responses to child sexual abuse; and the other investigates the social psychology of Black rape survivors in the U.S., Ghana and South Africa. The Ford Foundation and a Research Incentive Grant have supported his research.


Eric Marturano is a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences at Boston College, double-majoring in Economic and Philosophy, with a minor in African & African Diaspora Studies. Originally from Malvern, Pennsylvania, Eric has experience in service, including mission trips in Montreal and Philadelphia and volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity of West Chester and Big Brother Big Sister of Massachusetts Bay. He is excited to assist IJP and help Darfuri refugees make their voices heard to organizations like the ICC.


Jonice Ward is a senior at Boston College, majoring in French and International Studies and minoring in African & African Diaspora Studies. She is interested in foreign policy and developing countries, particularly ones in Africa.  She began working in this area with her family on a school in Monrovia, Liberia. Her work specifically on Darfur is recent yet invigorating. This summer she began working with the Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur and began to see the necessity for further United States’ involvement.  She is currently organizing a panel discussion through the Boston College African Students Organization with leaders from the Enough Project and the Massachusetts Coalition to hopefully educate more individuals on the issue. Through this collaborative project with IJP, Jonice hopes to gain further knowledge on the situation in order to better educate her family, peers, and perhaps even political leaders to allow for rapid and effective improvement.


Fatima Sattar is pursuing a PhD in sociology at Boston College. Her previous academic degrees include an MA in Middle Eastern and South Asian studies from the University of Chicago. Her research interests are in immigration, forced migration, refugees and resettlement, policy, race/ethnicity and inequality. She conducted ethnographic research at a U.S. refugee resettlement agency in the Northeast documenting the day-to-day challenges for resettlement workers carrying out the U.S. refugee resettlement program. She also worked with Iraqi and Bhutanese refugees providing them with resettlement reception and placement services. Fatima has attended the University of Oxford Refugee Studies Centre, International Summer School in Forced Migration and the Northwestern University’s Center for Forced Migration studies “Unsettling Resettlement” programs in 2011 and 2012. Fatima is a human rights and social justice advocate of victims of displacement and she supports developing a methodology that is ethical and in line with social justice goals – and which will also help elicit the intended data is critical to addressing the human rights violations committed against the Darfuri people.