Visa backlog strands West African refugees

Former West African refugees, many of whom are waiting to reunite with relatives stranded overseas because of visa processing backlogs, came together Monday night to bring the problem into the spotlight and convince the Bush administration to address the issue.

While the subject is serious, the evening also celebrated West African culture with food, live music and a showing of a film titled “The Sembakounya Refugee,” which chronicles a group of refugee musicians in Guinea.

The event, held at the Ashkenaz Music and Dance Community Center in Berkeley, is sponsored by the International Rescue Committee, one of the world’s largest refugee relief and resettlement agencies.

The IRC said the West African refugees’ plight tends to be overlooked in the shadow of unfolding world events, even though many continue to live in dangerous situations.

For more information on the IRC, visit www.ircsf.org.

To suggest items or comment on this roundup of Bay Area ethnic and community news, e-mail ahendrix@sfchronicle.com.

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