Diseases Impacting the Central African Republic
The Central African Republic is one of the poorest nations in Africa, with a GDP of just $2,516.50 in 2021. The nation has a history of engulfment in humanitarian crises and political instability. The ongoing civil war, which began in 2012, detrimentally affected the health care system and increased the prevalence of transmittable diseases impacting the Central African Republic. About 33% of its health facilities are partially damaged and just 22% are operational, according to assessments from 2021. However, organizations are working to strengthen health systems and provide critical health care to the country’s people, particularly in rural areas.


Malaria is a life-threatening, tropical disease transmitted to humans via female mosquitoes. It is one of many endemic diseases impacting the Central African Republic, infecting a vast number of people annually. In 2020, malaria impacted 336 people per 1,000.

The civil war between Christian militias and Muslim rebels contributed to the rapid increase in malaria cases and deaths. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) states that malaria cases in Bossangoa increased by more than threefold to 6,507 in May 2014, with children under 5 accounting for close to 66% of infections.

The war displaced thousands of civilians as militias burned and looted villages, leaving villagers without shelter and protection from mosquito-borne infections. A 2012 report by the MSF said approximately 12,000 displaced individuals resided nearby MSF health care projects in Kabo and Batangafo. The CAR government had established an initiative to provide free malaria treatment to children under 5 but it lacked the capacity and resources to properly function.

The MSF is tackling diseases impacting the Central African Republic, like malaria. In 2020, it launched a “mass drug administration” to prevent malaria infections. The organization broadcasted its campaign via local radios and then visited households to distribute anti-malaria treatment to avoid crowded areas during the COVID-19 pandemic. MSF and other international medical humanitarian organizations had provided treatment to 39,631 people in Batangafo.


HIV is one of the most widespread diseases impacting the Central African Republic. In 2021, approximately 83,000 adults and children lived with HIV, UNAIDS says. The disease is controlled using antiretroviral therapy (ART), which involves taking a combination of HIV medicines to stop the virus from replicating.

Marie Charlotte Bantah Sana, the head of the program against communicable diseases at the CAR’s Health and Population Ministry, told MSF in 2020 that 30% of patients who test positive for HIV do not come back to undergo treatment due to financial constraints.

Since 2019, MSF has provided “free medical care and psychological support for patients” with advanced HIV and tuberculosis problems. MSF prioritized advanced care in Bangui, CAR’s capital, where the HIV incidence is double the national average. Outside of Bangui, MSF is prioritizing the treatment of individuals with advanced stages of HIV in Paoua, Carnot, Kabo and Batangafo.

MSF also established community antiretroviral (ARV) groups in several areas, which involve designated community members supplying HIV patients with ARV drug refills. This decreased transport expenditure and allowed people to avoid hospitals where stigma and discrimination are common. By the close of 2020, MSF had established 276 community ARV groups to represent 2,300 HIV-infected individuals.

HIV/AIDS incidence rates in the Central African Republic have declined as more patients received antiretroviral therapy. Between 2016 and 2019, the number of people receiving antiretroviral therapy rose from fewer than 25,000 to more than 47,000.


Tuberculosis is a highly infectious airborne bacterial disease that affects the lungs and is easily transmitted in crowded areas. It is one of many common diseases impacting the Central African Republic. In 2000, the Central African Republic reported 540 tuberculosis cases per 100,000 individuals. This value has remained unchanged from 2000 to 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected the CAR’s ability to detect tuberculosis as the country suffered shortages of skilled staff in labs. Fortunately, the World Health Organization (WHO) provided financial and technical support to strengthen the country’s laboratory network.

The WHO helped with the purchase of 11 out of the total 23 GeneXpert machines the Central African Republic received between 2020 and 2021. GeneXpert machines are utilized for instant diagnostic testing and can detect the presence of tuberculosis bacteria in less than two hours. The WHO trained staff on how to install, utilize and maintain the machines. The addition of GeneXpert machines helped laboratories conduct 4,690 tuberculosis tests in 2021 compared to 1,345 tests before the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the efforts of organizations such as MSF and the WHO, the prevalence of diseases impacting the Central African Republic is reducing.

– Dami Kalejaiye
Photo: Flickr

Child Mortality in the Central African Republic
Child mortality in the Central African Republic (CAR) is a significant issue. According to UNICEF, in 2021, the CAR had one of the worst child mortality rates in the entire world, with 100 deaths per 1,000 live births, which equates to about one in 10 children dying before their fifth birthday. This issue of child mortality in the CAR is a multifaceted issue that has deeply rooted itself in the country.

Causes of Child Mortality in the Central African Republic

Researchers conducted a study in 2020 with the help of the Ministry of Health and Population and the Central African Institute for Statistics and Economic and Social Studies, which sheds light on the rampant child mortality in the CAR. The researchers conducted the study in one prefecture of the CAR called Ouaka, in which the researchers interviewed a sample size of 4,000 residents.

According to the study, 64% of the deaths of children under 5 resulted from three treatable diseases —  malaria, diarrhea and respiratory infections. Usually, diseases like diarrhea are simple to treat, however, in the CAR, inadequate access to health care presents barriers.

Doctors Without Borders discusses in an article why children in the CAR risk mortality even though these diseases are treatable. Firstly, parents attempt traditional medicine before taking their children to skilled health professionals, and by the time the parents seek out professional care, the child is in a severe state of health.

Additionally, urgent medical attendance is delayed by the fact that the distance to get to a hospital or health care center is long for those in rural locations. Many parents do not vaccinate their kids, which also impacts child mortality in the CAR. Many children have not received critical childhood immunizations, Doctors Without Borders says.

According to a 2012 article by Doctors Without Borders, 13% of under 5 child deaths in the CAR occurred while traveling to a hospital and 60% of child deaths occurred at home.

Doctors Without Borders Takes Action

Doctors Without Borders has worked in the CAR since 1997. From 2015 onward, Doctors Without Borders carried out a vaccination campaign to immunize more than 213,000 children in the CAR against nine common illnesses. During this campaign, the organization administered more than 1 million vaccines to children under 5. The Doctors Without Borders team also introduced preventative measures, such as, “distributing vitamin A, bed nets, anti-parasite treatment and screening for malnutrition,” its website says. Since then, the organization has launched many other immunization initiatives in the country.

For instance, in January 2020, the Ministry of Health in the CAR warned of a countrywide measles epidemic. In response, Doctors Without Borders held a large-scale measles vaccination initiative with the goal of immunizing more than 340,000 children in seven health zones in the CAR.

Overall the prevalence of child mortality in the CAR is concerning, however, it has seen an impressive decrease in the rate of death with the help of organizations like Doctors Without Borders. In 2000, under-5 child mortality rates in the CAR stood at 166 deaths. In 2012, more than 10 years later, under-5 child mortality in the CAR stood at 123 deaths but reduced to 100 in 2021.

Due to the ongoing work of organizations, there is hope for child mortality in the Central African Republic to continue decreasing in the coming years.

– David Keenan
Photo: Flickr

Helping Ukraine
In February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the beginning of a full-scale land, sea and air invasion of Ukraine. As of August 2022, the fighting has caused the internal migration of more than 6.6 million Ukrainians. Military losses are extreme on both sides, with an estimated 9,000 Ukrainians dead and 45,200 Russians either wounded or killed, NPR reported in August 2022.

A Restricted Response

Due to Russia’s economic, social and military power, it is extremely difficult for other nations to assist Ukraine. Slovakia, Lithuania, Poland, Finland, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Germany, Czech Republic, Greece, Belgium, Netherlands and Latvia all heavily depend on Russian oil. These countries are virtually unable to assist Ukraine, as this factor has caused inflation and threatens economic collapse.

Larger, less dependent countries, such as the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom, are also restricted due to the veto power of the United Nations. Because of Russia’s veto power — determined by the outcome of World War II — the United Nations as a whole has no capability of placing any restrictions or punishments on Russia for the country’s actions. However, despite these challenges, countries worldwide are still attempting to use their power to assist Ukraine.

Aid That is Helping Ukraine

In the United States, Ukrainians have risen to the top of the immigration list. As of June 2022, the U.S. has accepted more than 20,000 Ukrainian refugees and has provided them with food, clothing, technology, housing and education upon their arrival. The U.S. also placed several sanctions on Russia and has invested $19.3 billion in security defense for Ukraine since January 2021. This includes $18.3 billion since “Russia’s launched its premeditated, unprovoked, and brutal war against Ukraine on February 24, [2022].” Along with the U.S., Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Netherlands and the United Kingdom have also sent military aid to Ukraine.

Countries located closer to Ukraine – Poland, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary – are helping Ukraine by accepting and providing for millions of displaced Ukrainians. Over the past year, several nonprofit organizations have also joined in helping Ukraine, such as United24, Razom for Ukraine, UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children, International Medical Corps, Voices of the Children and more.

The current aid that various organizations are offering Ukraine varies from health care to psychological support. Voices of the Children, for example, is a charitable foundation in Ukraine, that aims to provide psychological and psychosocial support for children who experience war, while Save the Children helps deliver lifesaving aid to vulnerable children in Ukraine. UNICEF, similar to other major organizations, supports the sanitation and protection of the Ukrainian people by providing a variety of aid and an immense amount of assistance from volunteers.

Looking Ahead

As the Ukrainian War trudges on, these efforts are becoming vital to the country’s survival and its people. Through these efforts, the Ukrainian people may be able to focus more on themselves and their families, rather than the stress of survival.

– Sania Patel
Photo: Flickr

Games Done Quick
Crammed into the convention center of a suburban Minneapolis DoubleTree Hilton, thousands sat in a room filled with chairs, a pair of projection screens, a TV, a few gaming consoles and PCs, a stack of prizes and a couch, listening to the clicks of keyboards and joysticks over seven days. Competitors, many of whom were unknowns sitting among the crowd, trained for years, memorizing specific levels paths and honing their muscle memories, in anticipation for this week. Around the world, millions watch the lightning-fast action online, shooting comments into a scrolling chat box and sending in donations to fill up a green bar at the bottom of the screen. This is the scene of a typical Games Done Quick event. Generally, people are here for two things: to see video games — from classics like Super Mario Bros. to newcomers like Elden Ring — finished in record-breaking times and to generate millions of dollars toward saving lives.

About Games Done Quick (GDQ)

Games Done Quick, also known simply as GDQ, is a series of live-streamed and in-person charity events built around marathons of video game speed runs. Speedrunning is a popular style of gaming where players attempt to complete sections or entire games as quickly as possible — sometimes using hacks and/or glitches to achieve better times. GDQ typically regularly hosts two major events throughout the year: Awesome Games Done Quick and Summer Games Done Quick.

Though these events focus on speed-running video games, GDQ’s central goal is raising money for nonprofits. In the past, it has even controversially switched which games participants would play mid-event in hopes of maximizing the amount of viewership and donations. Over the nine years that GDQ has been hosting events, they have raised a total of $34 million toward charities that fight cancer, provide education to women in the developing world, and give health care to those around the world who would otherwise not receive it.

GDQ and Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide medical care to anyone who needs it. According to its website, it works in more than 70 countries. Typically, the organization works mostly in conflict zones, areas where natural disasters have hit and locations where access to traditional health care is either limited or nonexistent.

Recently, Doctors Without Borders has been involved in the global response to COVID-19 by supporting developing nations’ overwhelmed healthcare systems, refugee search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea and providing displaced peoples from the Lake Chad region of Africa medical attention as the area experiences a period of violent conflict.

In July 2022, GDQ hosted its annual Summer Games Done Quick, benefitting Doctors Without Borders. It was its first in-person event since 2019, having switched to an online format during the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, viewers watching on the popular live streaming platform Twitch donated more than $3 million to Doctors Without Borders. According to its website, GDQ claims to be the largest event in the world raising money for Doctors Without Borders.

The Future of GDQ and Live Streaming for Charity

In August 2022, GDQ plans to host “Flame Fatales,” which will feature a cast of female-only speedrunners and benefit the Malala Foundation. The Malala Foundation is a nonprofit advocating for the funding of secondary education for girls around the world and supporting education activists.

Outside of GDQ, Twitch, among other live streaming services, has served as a platform for numerous other fundraisers. These include large-scale, produced events, such as GDQ, but also individual streamers encouraging their viewership to donate to charity while watching.

In 2021, French streamers ZeratoR and Dach hosted Z Event 2021 on Twitch. By collaborating with other popular streamers, they raised a record-breaking $11.5 million to fight world hunger through the organization Action Against Hunger.

Throughout his career, individual streamer Nick28T has driven those watching his gaming streams to donate more than $200,000 to the BC Cancer Foundation, which funds cancer research, advocacy and care for patients living in British Columbia.

In 2020 alone, Twitch reported that streamers across the site managed to raise over $81 million for charity. In response to the popularity of charity streams, Twitch has invested in specially made tools for philanthropy. It has partnered with Tiltify, a service that provides streamers with fundraising overlays, donation tracking tools and more. The partnership represents the company’s attempt to compete with other platforms like YouTube and Facebook to host these massive charity drives as more fundraisers choose to go digital.

– Ryan Morton
Photo: Flickr

Doctors Without Borders Helps UkraineDoctors Without Borders is an international, non-governmental group that cares for people affected by conflict, disease, natural and human-made disasters and exclusion from health care in more than 70 countries. Since the war’s beginning, Doctors Without Borders helps Ukraine in many different ways.

Doctors Without Borders Helps Ukraine

Since Russia launched a large-scale military operation against Ukraine in February 2022, millions of people have fled their homes, 7 million remaining displaced in Ukraine and 5 million fleeing to various neighboring countries.

Doctors Without Borders has maintained a presence in Ukraine since 2014, working to respond to the needs of HIV and tuberculosis patients. As the war has escalated over the last couple of months, the organization has halted its normal activities and launched emergency projects in Ukraine, tending to the current residents as well as the refugees in surrounding countries.

Doctors Without Borders teams are making every effort to help in Ukraine. Working with Ukrainian railways, the organization constructed a two-car medical train to transport patients from the east side of the country– the most affected side– to medical facilities on the west side of the country in April 2022. Doctors Without Borders is also setting up mobile clinic teams around the country.

Since implementing these teams at the war’s beginning, the organization has carried out more than 800 medical procedures in the subway stations, where Ukrainians are taking shelter against Russian bombing, according to its website. A team in Southwestern Ukraine has started tending to the needs of displaced people who need mental health care, and those who were receiving treatment for injuries and illnesses before the war broke out.

Helping Ukrainian Doctors

Due to the lack of trauma training that many Ukrainian doctors have, Doctors Without Borders has employed trauma specialists to teach those working in the hospitals how to assess and deal with trauma cases. A large effect that Doctors Without Borders has had on helping in Ukraine is the donation of medical supplies to the already-existing clinics and hospitals in the country.

Prior to the war’s outbreak, supply lines around the country were already extremely insecure, and the effects of the war have heightened the uncertainty of the lines even more.

Ukrainians have been in desperate need of medical equipment since the war’s beginning, having to make do with a very limited supply of first-aid kits, surgical tools, general resources and funds to administer vaccines. In March 2022, Doctors Without Borders delivered its first shipment of medical supplies to the Ukraine Ministry of Health and has continued to donate on a regular basis, according to its website.


Before the war, around 35% of Ukrainians had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. As the conflict continues to rage, a surge of COVID-19 cases is taking place as a result of the disruption to testing and vaccine administration. As of August 2022, there are currently more than 4,000 active cases of COVID-19, and very limited supplies to help.

Doctors Without Borders teams around the world have been responding to the pandemic since 2020 and make no exception in Ukraine as the war brings up other pressing health issues. COVID-19 activities are remaining at the forefront of health care within the organization’s emergency activities, as Doctors Without Borders is providing Ukrainians with regular testing and vaccinations.

In addition to medical supplies and treatment, Doctors Without Borders has also donated a large supply of cold-weather clothing and tents to support the large population of homeless Ukrainians, according to its website. As the war continues to rage, Doctors Without Borders, in conjunction with other global aid organizations, is doing everything possible to provide relief to those who are unfairly facing displacement and danger.

– Ava Lombardi
Photo: Unsplash

Operating in Afghanistan
After years of war and conflict, Afghanistan is facing a major humanitarian crisis. The country’s economy has almost completely collapsed following the takeover of the Taliban in 2021. The Taliban’s involvement in Afghanistan’s economic system has left the nation nearly isolated after the withdrawal of support from major players, such as the United States. Approximately 95% of Afghanistan homes that the World Food Programme (WFP) surveyed have been experiencing food insecurity since September 2021. Households are losing income and numbers are deteriorating quickly. Here are five charities operating in Afghanistan to provide relief.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP)

The U.N. World Food Programme has been one of the major charities operating in Afghanistan, providing food to Afghans for six decades. Due to years of conflict and instability, the majority of the population in Afghanistan is food insecure and malnutrition has doubled among children, according to Save the Children. The organization is responsible for record levels of food provision, serving 16 million Afghans since August 2021.


CARE USA is a nonprofit dedicated to providing humanitarian and economic support to countries experiencing crises globally with a special focus on the wellbeing of women and children. The organization has introduced three programs in Afghanistan. These include women and girls’ empowerment, resiliency and humanitarian relief efforts.  In 2021, CARE reached more than 1.1 million people to provide food, water, health care and education. Many of these programs work to promote sustainable progress in women’s health, inclusive governance and stability for the people of Afghanistan.

International Rescue Committee (IRC)

The International Rescue Committee is a global humanitarian charity operating in Afghanistan since the 1980s. The nonprofit provides cash assistance and other basic necessities while supporting health center operations and safe learning spaces for Afghan children. The International Rescue Committee also promotes sustainability in its poverty reduction efforts. It works with local communities to help them create and manage their own projects. In fact, more than 99% of the International Rescue Committee’s staff in the country are Afghan citizens.

The Central Asia Institute (CAI)

The Central Asia Institute is an organization focused on improving access to quality education in central Asian countries. The nonprofit created 15 schools in the Kunar province of Afghanistan, securing access to education for 452 students. The CAI also provides scholarships to primarily women educators to finish their schooling and secure paid teaching jobs. CAI provides emergency aid to displaced women and families.

Doctors Without Borders

Medical assistance is critical during the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Doctors Without Borders works to establish medical facilities and provide free, safe health care to the people of Afghanistan. The majority of its work consists of maternal and neonatal health care provisions, and it provided approximately 112,000 emergency consultations in 2020 while assisting in almost 40,000 births.

Looking Ahead

Support from the international community is crucial to the survival of the people of Afghanistan. While policy action is necessary for sustainable rebuilding, people on the ground cannot wait for support to meet their basic needs. These global organizations are providing immediate assistance to millions, and their work will continue to prove invaluable.

Hannah Yonas
Photo: Flickr

NGOs in UkraineUkraine has a long history of political turmoil and foreign interference since it achieved independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. From the annexation of Crimea in 2014 to Russia’s covert war in the Donbas, Russia has consistently engaged in undermining the territorial and political integrity of Ukraine. Remaining in line with these actions, on February 24, 2022, Russian President Vladamir Putin authorized a military invasion, or what he dubs a “special military operation,” against neighboring Ukraine. During the first week of the invasion, 1 million refugees fled the destruction and warfare taking place in Ukraine. In light of the destruction that the Russian invasion caused, NGOs in Ukraine are trying to funnel much-needed aid from international donors to Ukrainians.

Medical Assistance

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to an abysmal shortage of necessary medical supplies. Ukraine is “facing shortages of zeolite,” a necessary material for the manufacturing of medical oxygen, and by March 1, 2022, UNAIDS announced that Ukraine has “less than a month’s” supply of HIV/AIDS medication. In addition, Ukraine has had to abruptly pause efforts to contain Polio “as health authorities shift to emergency care.”

With the lack of medical supplies, NGOs in Ukraine, including Doctors Without Borders and Project HOPE, have been funneling medical aid to alleviate the critical medical shortages in Ukraine. Doctors Without Borders is organizing kits of both medicine and medical equipment to alleviate Ukraine’s medical shortages from Doctors Without Borders’ logistical bases in Bordeaux and Brussels. To increase the supply capacity for medical assistance, Doctors Without Borders is also establishing warehouses in Western Ukraine.

Project HOPE, with more emphasis on supporting Ukrainian refugees, is operating in Eastern Europe to deliver crucial medical supplies to fleeing Ukrainians in coordination with government agencies. In Moldova, Project HOPE has been coordinating with Moldova’s Ministry of Health to deliver medical supplies for Ukrainian refugees, which includes an Interagency Emergency Health Kit designed to assist 10,000 individuals for a span of three months. The Interagency Emergency Health Kit consists of one ton of medical resources, such as medical supplies, topical treatments, oral therapeutics and medical devices.

Refugee Assistance

Aside from NGOs in Ukraine delivering medical assistance, NGOs are also operating outside of Ukraine in Eastern Europe to support refugees. In particular, “CARE’s partner organization” is operating with aid workers on the Slovak-Ukrainian borders to establish heated tents for people to rest as well as sanitation facilities and portable toilets. For refugees, emergency relief teams are also providing “crisis intervention and psychosocial assistance” services.

The organization People in Need is also providing heated tents, designed to provide a space for Ukrainian refugees to rest, capable of holding up to 200 individuals. The organization is also providing water, hygiene items, food and SIM cards for communication on the Slovak-Ukrainian border. Furthermore, People in Need has also established facilities for Ukrainians waiting for border control near Velky Berezny to vet them.

The humanitarian crisis in Ukraine is critical: the U.N. estimates that an additional 4 million individuals “may flee Ukraine.” While the Russian invasion of Ukraine is dim, there is hope as NGOs in Ukraine are providing aid and local organizations are working to alleviate the refugee flow from Ukraine into Eastern Europe.

– Alexander Richter
Photo: Flickr

Facts about South SudanIn South Sudan, poverty and food insecurity are prevalent despite the country’s abundance of natural resources. Challenges include civil wars and prolonged violence. These challenges contribute to a significant number of people living below the poverty line within the nation. Several facts about South Sudan provide insight into the country’s economic and social landscape.

9  Facts About South Sudan

  1. A 50-Year Conflict. From 1955 through 2005, North and South Sudan faced civil wars and conflict. In January of 2005, the leaders of North and South Sudan signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). This agreement granted Southerners a revised Interim Constitution and partial autonomy. However, even with a signed peace agreement, social, political and economic conflict continues in South Sudan.
  2. Gaining Independence. In January 2011, 98% of Southerners in Sudan voted to secede from the north. Due to this vote, in July 2011, the Republic of South Sudan was formed — the world’s youngest country.
  3. High Poverty Rate. South Sudan has a population of about 12 million people. The overwhelming majority of the population, about 80%, resides in rural areas. According to the World Bank’s latest estimates, about 82% of South Sudanese people endure poverty, surviving on less than $1.90 per day.
  4.  An Abundance of Natural Resources. Although South Sudan falls high on the poverty scale, the country has many natural resources. The Nile River, petroleum, marble/dolomite, aluminum, iron ore and gold stand as the nation’s major natural resources. Of these resources, oil fuels the country’s economy, with outside investors dominating the sector. The issue is that about 85% of the population works in non-wage pastoral jobs and does not benefit from the abundance of natural resources.
  5. Water and Sanitation are Limited. In 2019, just half of the South Sudanese population had access to safe drinking water. Also, just 10% of people had “access to basic sanitation.” On a positive note, due to the work of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), almost a million more South Sudanese people received “access to improved drinking water” between 2008 and 2019.
  6. Inadequate Health Care. Less than 50% of the South Sudanese population has access to health services. The government allocates only 2.6% of its budget to health care. For this reason, many citizens rely on non-governental organizations (NGOs) for their health care needs. Doctors Without Borders is a movement dedicated to providing medical aid globally. In 2019, Doctors Without Borders had 19 project sites across South Sudan. The organization’s medical assistance is vast and ranges from tackling malaria to vaccinating children and treating gunshot wounds.
  7. Food Insecurity is High. More than 60% of the population is currently enduring food insecurity. The International Relief Committee (IRC) believes that famine will increase even more in 2021. This stems from the cumulative effects of “conflict, an economic crisis, recurrent flooding and COVID-19” as well as displacement. The IRC is advocating for an infusion of support to stave off famine in South Sudan. Action Against Hunger is an NGO currently aiding South Sudan in hunger relief. As the world’s hunger specialist, its goal is to create new, better ways to deal with hunger. In 2020, it helped 558,079 people in South Sudan. Of this number, the organization’s health and nutrition programs helped more than 300,000 people. Further, 103,004 people received help through “food security and livelihood programs.”
  8. Life Expectancy is Increasing. South Sudanese life expectancy stood at 57.6 years of age in 2018. For males, the life expectancy was 56.1 years old. For the female counterpart, the life expectancy was higher at 59.1 years old. This is a steady increase over the years — 20 years ago, in 1998, the life expectancy at birth stood at 48.3 years old.
  9. Access to Education. More than 70% of South Sudanese children are not attending school. Some of these children live in pastoral settings and need to follow the herds so they cannot attend school. Girls are the largest group of students out of school.  This is due to poverty, cultural and religious beliefs and child marriage.

Looking Ahead

These facts about South Sudan may seem discouraging, but there are NGOs working on solutions. World Concern is a faith-based organization that works in South Sudan and 11 other countries. The organization provides assistance in the areas of water access, health, child protection, education, food security and nutrition, disaster and crisis response as well as economic resilience. World Concern supports countries village by village and operates in eight villages in South Sudan.

Hope is on the horizon for the people of South Sudan as organizations like World Concern, the IRC, Doctors Without Borders and Action Against Hunger step up to help. Coupled with the country’s abundance of natural resources, these efforts ensure South Sudanese people are able to rise out of poverty.

– Ariel Dowdy
Photo: Flickr

Arab Spring
The term “Arab Spring” characterized a series of upheavals across the Middle East and North African regions (MENA) in which a surge of citizens defied their authoritarian governments. It all started in Tunisia in 2010 when a man set himself on fire in a demonstration against police corruption. Sudan joined the anti-oppression movement in an effort to eradicate oppression and poverty in Sudan soon after. Now, a decade and a new government later, the country finds itself in an ideal position to begin seriously addressing poverty in Sudan.

A Tragic History

For many years, the Sudanese have suffered the brutal dictatorship of an authoritarian regime. In 2003, Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) took up arms against their government in Darfur. These groups launched attacks against government facilities and army facilities in an attempt to obtain more financial and democratic power for the citizens. The subsequent conflict became known as the Darfur Genocide.

Both Sudan’s government, headed by President Omar al-Bashir, and the movements that opposed it were non-Arab. This conflict led to the deaths of around 15,000 people and the uprooting of millions of citizens. Bashir created a country dichotomized into Arabs and Africans, as opposed to a country that acted as a home for all Sudanese people. These conditions laid the foundation for the Bashir administration’s oppression of the Sudanese people. In 2011, the stage was set for the Arab Spring in Sudan. As a result of these protests, violence erupted. Throughout, Bashir retained his presidency.

Economic Challenges

Poverty in Sudan and socioeconomic woes increased following July 2011, when South Sudan gained independence from Sudan after Africa’s longest-running civil war. Considering most oil fields prospered in the south of the country, the most significant price Sudan paid was the loss of oil profits. As a result, Sudan’s inflation went rampant, provoking major upset among the Sudanese. The younger generations found it exceptionally challenging to find a job. Instead of addressing these issues, Sudan used most of its resources for military purposes. Additionally, a drought worsened Sudan’s already restrictive agricultural policies.

The failure of the industrial labor market caused unemployment and poverty to spread. The absence of economic opportunity prompted Bashir to eradicate nearly all civil society organizations. As a result, human rights and labor units shut down. Conjointly, due to Bashir’s Islamic leadership, women experienced extreme restraints. Indeed, Sudanese people experienced their basic rights stripped from them and those they loved, leaving them with exceptionally limited freedom.

Poverty in Sudan prevailed when bread, a basic food, became unaffordable. Violence and economic struggles contributed greatly to the oppression of the Sudanese people. However, the loss of affordable access to the most basic aspect of life, food, triggered the people to rise up and demand change.

New National Solidarity

One catalyst driving the protests was the desegregation of the different factions of Sudan. New national solidarity arose in recent years with the hope of ending Bashir’s rule. It was no longer Arabs verse the Africans. One example illustrating this was the chants throughout the northern and southern parts of Sudan beginning in late 2018. Multi-ethnic protestors chanted “we are all Darfur” while Darfur’s protestors chanted “we are all Khartoum,” demonstrating solidarity across the different religions and ethnicities of Sudan.

As the protests gained momentum, many more joined in hopes of replacing the regime with a government that could recover some of the economic loss. Public opposition groups played a key role in even the poorest communities. This ensured that everyone’s voices were on display despite their economic status. Women also took to the streets to protest the mistreatment they had experienced over the years, proving that all segments of Sudanese society engaged and committed themselves to the revolution.

A Successful Revolution

Sudanese citizens again requested Bashir to resign, but he refused. The government reacted violently, murdering a number of protestors. This only served to further outrage and inspire demonstrators around the country. Finally, the opposition assembled peacefully outside Sudan’s military headquarters in Khartoum, the capital, demanding Bashir’s resignation.

Critically, the revolution attained military assistance despite the military being a fundamental pillar of Bashir’s rule. In the face of the massive scale of the uprisings, the military began wavering in its support of Bashir. Leaders eventually determined that self-preservation was the only choice, and the military deposed the dictator.

Sudan Today

Despite the success in overthrowing Bashir, poverty in Sudan remains a major issue. Some 36% of the population lives below the poverty line. Poverty in Sudan exacerbates other issues, resulting in approximately 1 million children experiencing global acute malnutrition.

Due to its perseverance, Sudan is experiencing rebuilding. Many organizations are addressing poverty in Sudan. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is assisting in the establishment of early childcare programs in Darfur, Sudan. Additionally, the organization is going through an appeal process to raise $211 million to assist in humanitarian efforts. Some of the targeted recipients include 7.4 million children and 2.5 million internally displaced persons. Another organization committed to aiding the next generation of Sudan is Save the Children. In 2020, it helped 374,000 children by addressing poverty in Sudan through nourishment, education, protection and crisis aid. Doctors Without Borders also aims to improve the severely-lacking health care in Sudan.

A Brighter Future

The Sudanese have always fought for human rights and against tyranny. They triumphed due to their tenacity, finally ending a dictatorship that lasted for 30 years. Now, with support from its international allies, Sudan is undeniably on its road to alleviating the effects of poverty.

– Tiffany Lewallyn
Photo: Flickr

Refugees in France
Over the past decade, Europe has become a hub for migrants and refugees fleeing conflict and unrest. Selling most if not all of their personal belongings, families leave their homes behind with eyes set on safer borders in Europe. France is among the most popular nations to settle in — during 2020 alone, 87,659 people applied for asylum in France. For those who do survive the journey, which includes walking, hitchhiking and overcrowded boats, new challenges await. Although the poverty rate in France stood at 14.8% in 2018, refugees and asylum seekers face disproportionately higher rates of poverty. When they first arrive in France, many of these families end up in tents and shanty settlements with little access to clean water and food. However, several programs aim to support refugees in France.

5 Programs Supporting Refugees in France

  1. French Refugee Council (FRC). Founded in 2013, the FRC is an independent NGO providing practical support to refugees in France with the objective of helping them rebuild their lives. FRC staff work directly with refugees by facilitating access to education, job opportunities and legal assistance. The organization hosts several programs, including integration workshops focused on equipping migrants with the skills needed to become “a productive part of the host society.” Refugees learn bout the “French job market and workplace culture” while receiving French language lessons. The FRC’s Teach a Refugee Program aims to “connect local citizens with asylum seekers and refugees through language classes.” Since 2016, 863 immigrants have benefited from this program, which aims to break the language and cultural gaps between immigrants and locals. The FRC also helps refugees who may have already obtained vocational qualifications by working to validate any existing degrees and work experience.
  2. Refugee Food Festival. In partnership with the city of Paris and the UNHCR, the nonprofit Food Sweet Food hosts the festival annually in June around the time of World Refugee Day (June 20). Food Sweet Food works with local restaurants in the city to open their kitchens and change their menus to local dishes prepared by refugee chefs. The public then receives an invitation to these restaurants to engage with the cuisine and people. Food Sweet Food sees cuisine as a way to bridge gaps and bring diverse communities together — the objective of this festival is to create an environment to change cultural perceptions, create dialogue and facilitate refugee integration. Since its beginning in 2016, the Refugee Food Festival has seen chefs from Ivory Coast, Iraq, Syria and more. Other European cities also welcome the event. The Refugee Food Festival has seen engagement from more than 116,000 citizens and 239 chefs in 19 cities.
  3. Doctors Without Borders. Well known for providing medical care to those who lack access across the globe, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is also active in France, specifically targeting unaccompanied minors. MSF works to provide legal, medical and other support to minors who are unable to successfully apply for child protection. Many young refugees find themselves extremely vulnerable, especially with regards to finding accommodation. To remedy this, MSF offers unaccompanied minors nightly emergency accommodation in Paris and Marseille, hosting up to 150 minors a night. Additionally, MSF makes its regular mobile health clinics available to “migrants of all ages in Paris.” In 2019 alone, “734 minors benefited from [MSF’s] services.”
  4. Comede. Formally known as the “Committee for the health of exiles,” Amnesty International, Cimade and Groupe Accueil Solidarité established Comede in 1979 to safeguard the health and rights of “refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied foreign minors,and other immigrants/foreigners” in France. Comede offers medical, psychological, social and legal care to these vulnerable groups with the aim of helping them increase their autonomy. Comede operates hotlines to connect individuals with any services that they might need when they first arrive in France. Utilizing hotlines and working alongside lawyers, health service providers and social workers, Comede has helped more than 100,000 people since its founding in 1979.
  5. The Salvation Army. With an active presence in more than 130 countries, the Salvation Army is one the largest charity organizations in the world. “A joint project between Paris and neighboring Saint-Denis,” the Salvation Army-run drop-in center is open to all migrants and refugees every day of the week. Opened in 2019, the center aims to assist the growing number of refugees who find themselves in shanty settlements when they arrive in France. The center provides showers, a charging station, washing machines and sleeping quarters. Refugees can also find free breakfast at another center nearby. The drop-in center also hosts French classes, and with 2,000 square meters of space, it has the capacity to hold 70 people but often sees visitors in the hundreds.

Journeying thousands of miles in unsafe conditions in search of a better life, refugees find new challenges waiting for them when they arrive in Europe. These five organizations try to address the many facets of integrating and starting a life in a new society.

– Owen Mutiganda
Photo: Flickr