Foreign Aid to Sudan A fractured economy, political protests and the transition to a democratic country are factors that have put Sudan in the global spotlight. Due to shortages within the country and the added weight of COVID-19, Sudan is on track to receive much-needed financial aid from several global sources. Foreign aid to Sudan will provide direct relief to the impoverished people in the country.

Improved Foreign Relations

In February 2020, Sudan’s ex-president, Omar al-Bashir was prosecuted and convicted for the mass murders of people in the region of Darfur. The declaration was made that the country would cooperate with the ICC (International Criminal Court) for the prosecution. This act could serve as a window of opportunity for improved foreign relations and a new international image. There have also been talks of peace agreements between Sudan and Israel. These issues have attracted a global audience as the world watches to see where things could potentially lead to.

Democracy and Debt

One of the country’s most monumental feats was transitioning to democracy after many years of social discord and oppressive power. Unfortunately, this massive change also came with a damaged political system and an outstanding debt of nearly $60 billion. Necessities such as food and fuel have undergone an extreme rise in price at an 80% estimate and the introduction of COVID-19 could be the potential last straw for Sudan’s already overburdened economy. While Sudan’s army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Abdal Fatteh al-Burhan, is a member of the Sovereign Council, the relationship between the country’s government and the military is rocky. The prime minister, Abdalla Hamdock, is desperately trying to avoid a potential military takeover and is calling for any available financial support from allies abroad.

Sudan’s Call for Help

Sudan’s call for help had reached many different listening ears. In a joint effort, the World Bank, the European Union and several other countries signed a deal of almost $190 million that would go directly to families in need through the Sudan Family Support Programme (SFSP). The amount of foreign aid to Sudan would equal out to 500 Sudanese pounds (roughly $9) per person, per month for one year and aims to cover the needs of nearly 80% of Sudan citizens. Prime minister Hamdock noted that while willing donors have given $1.8 billion to help, the country is really in need of $8 billion for a real balance to its economy. The distribution of the aid was set to begin in October 2020 and will eventually total $1.9 billion after two years.

The Road Ahead

With the degree of social and political change in Sudan, the country is certainly moving in a positive direction. Reinventing the country’s image and political structure is no easy feat. Sudan has proven that change is certainly possible, even in the most dire circumstances, especially with sufficient international backing and support. Foreign aid to Sudan gives the people of the country hope for a better future.

– Brandon Baham
Photo: Flickr

United Parcel Service (UPS) is the world’s largest package delivery company and a global leader in supply chain innovation. The company’s extensive worldwide network makes it a critical link in everyday commerce while providing the necessary infrastructure and expertise to continue operations during crises. Since its establishment, UPS has leveraged its sub-sectors, global partnerships and supply chain intelligence to provide relief for communities across the world in times of need.

The UPS Foundation, the philanthropic arm of UPS, leads the company’s response efforts. The organization donated over $6 million this year to United Nations agencies, humanitarian relief partners, non-profit and international non-governmental organizations.

UPS History of Crisis Prevention

In 2014, an outbreak of the Ebola Virus spread across West Africa, killing 11,325 people. As the second-largest outbreak in history, it highlighted the importance of assembling an efficient system for distributing medical equipment. Later that year, the UPS Foundation joined with Henry Schein, Johnson & Johnson, The World Trade Organization, World Food Program and World Economic Forum to start the Pandemic Supply Chain Network, with the goal of increasing supply chain efficiency. The partnership is a collaboration between public and private sectors that tracks global demand for medical supplies in order to coordinate the allocation and distribution of equipment during large scale public health emergencies.

In 2016, the UPS Foundation partnered with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Rwandan Ministry of Health and Zipline, a drone delivery service providing access to vital medical supplies, to establish the Rwanda Drone Delivery Network. The network is the world’s first drone delivery service whose mission is to provide medicine, vaccines and supplies to remote regions in Rwanda and Ghana. Making basic treatment more accessible is a crucial step toward achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal of universal healthcare coverage, particularly in isolated and underdeveloped areas.

Previously, UPS also joined with the Partnership for Influenza Vaccine Introduction to provide tools and educational resources to healthcare workers about influenza vaccine administration. The organization works with low-income countries to build yearly influenza vaccination programs. These programs provide a strong existing infrastructure for vaccine distribution that can hold up during a pandemic. Through a $50,000 grant, The UPS Foundation funded the vaccination of more than 17,000 individuals in Armenia, Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan, as well as 130,000 health workers in Vietnam.

COVID-19 Response

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, UPS has taken an active role in supporting international recovery efforts. Through various grants and funding, The UPS Foundation has contributed a total of nearly $21 million toward humanitarian causes in 2020. The company hopes to increase the involvement of private-sector companies in relief efforts through partnerships. These partnerships would provide medical equipment, treatment, food and other basic necessities to vulnerable regions.

UPS joined Project Airbridge, a partnership between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and private-sector companies in numerous countries, to expedite the delivery of medical supplies to remote or vulnerable areas. With the help of its existing global supply chain, UPS is operating additional flights between several countries in Asia, Europe and the U.S. to aid in the distribution of personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves, surgical materials, thermometers and test kits.

UPS is also currently working with three COVID-19 vaccine developers and preparing to facilitate an eventual distribution and rollout. Its subsidiaries Polar Speed and Marken are using their storage facilities, designed to handle fragile and temperature-sensitive materials, to assist with holding and logistics.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, innovation and adaptation are critical skills in developing solutions. UPS has been a leader in supply chain logistics and is now using its expertise to provide global relief. The company’s ability to modify its operations to meet the world’s needs has been tested in the past and continues to show as UPS creates innovative solutions to humanitarian issues, both alone and through partnerships.

Sylvie Antal
Photo: Flickr

South Sudanese Refugees in UgandaSouth Sudan is a country located in East-Central Africa with a population of approximately 13 million. The country is rich in fertile agricultural land, as well as precious gems and metals such as diamonds and gold. Yet, South Sudan is one of the world’s poorest countries and ranks low in many socioeconomic categories, due to its brutal history of civil war and current tensions with Sudan.

South Sudan has a history of upheaval and political unrest. Prior to gaining its independence in 2011, the country was part of the large Sudan. Yet citizens from the south were not given the same political rights as those in the north, leading to two prolonged periods of conflict occurring from 1955-1972 and 1983-2005.

During this time, an estimated 2.5 million Sudanese died due to starvation and drought.  Finally, in 2005, a Comprehensive Peace Agreement was reached, in which the south was given a six-year period of autonomy to eventually be followed by a referendum to determine the final status of the country. The result of the referendum indicated that 98 percent of the population was in favor of secession.

Despite gaining independence, South Sudan has struggled to control rebel militia groups operating in the region. Following a year of peace, fighting broke out again in July 2016, leaving millions of South Sudanese displaced, as many were forced to flee their country into the neighboring country of Uganda.

The U.N. Refugee Agency estimates that over one million South Sudanese refugees have fled to Uganda over the last year, meaning approximately 1,800 refugees arrive each day. It has become one of the fastest-growing refugee crises in the world, with more than 85 percent of the South Sudanese refugees in Uganda being women and children under the age of 18. One refugee camp, just south of the border called the Adjumani Settlement, has over 210,000 South Sudanese refugees. These settlements often have limited space and resources, including limited water availability, yet thousands of refugees continue to pour into Uganda.

Despite Uganda having its own internal struggles, many experts have applauded the country for maintaining its open borders as well as its progressive approach to asylum. Uganda provides refugees with land to build shelter and grow crops. It allows the South Sudanese refugees the freedom to work, while also giving them access to public services including health care and education.

The Ugandan government is also working to garner additional financial support from other foreign countries including the United States. It hosted a Solidarity Summit in June to raise funds for South Sudanese refugees in Uganda; however, only 21 percent of the $674 million needed was actually received from the countries invited.

Despite the lack of funding, many organizations have provided their assistance to the South Sudanese refugees in Uganda. Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as Doctors Without Borders, has provided tremendous medical assistance to many of the refugee camps. Between January and April 2017, Doctors Without Borders provided over 20,000 medical consultations, and delivered over 250 babies and provided their mothers with adequate health care. Not only does Doctors Without provide basic health care, it also provides mental health care services to refugees who have experienced trauma through their displacement.

The government of Ireland also has airlifted over $500,000 of essential relief items, including blankets, shelter construction materials and mosquito nets, to assist the South Sudanese refugees in Uganda. Over the past year, Ireland has spent over $3.5 million in support of the refugees. The country also pledged solidarity and a willingness to support the refugees in any way it can.

Many organizations and countries have shown their support to the South Sudanese refugees in Uganda. However, the country is still in need of desperate financial resources to provide individuals with basic necessities, including food and water. Greater education on the South Sundanese refugee issue around the globe, coupled with additional financial support to fund the nearly $700 million needed, can provide displaced citizens with basic necessities in order to give them the ability to rebuild their lives in Uganda.

– Sarah Jane Fraser

Photo: Flickr

In the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis, a new form of relief organization has emerged, known as Ad Hoc Grassroots Organizations (AHGOs). In a study that explores their role in Lesvos, Greece, the Public Library of Science (PLOS) identified 41 AHGOs and interviewed 13 of them.

AHGOs are helpful at providing quick humanitarian relief. They are particularly potent when governments are not able to respond as quickly to disasters. According to the report done by PLOS, in the future, AHGOs should be recognized as new humanitarian actors.

These groups are created specifically to provide relief for a particular cause. AHGOs previously provided relief during the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. In this instance, the 13 that were contacted were formed in 2015 with the intent of assisting refugees that fled the crisis in Syria, made their way over the Mediterranean, and landed in Lesvos.

Organizations are different than nonprofit organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs). After they serve their purpose they are rendered ineffectual. Their expiration date might make the notion of them seem unnecessary. How might temporary ad hoc organizations be more effective at providing relief than other pre-existing organizations?

PLOS explores this notion in its article. Because of their lack of infrastructure, AHGOs provide ordinary people who want to help by responding to disasters. Many volunteers working in Lesvos were there because they expressed a simple desire to help and were surprised that more aid had not already been sent by the United Nations and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs).

Volunteers working with AHGOs in Lesvos expressed that their lack of structure could also be negative. The volunteers tended to take the form of paramedics, nurses, and those experienced in the wilderness. Despite the skills that the volunteers brought with them, many were ill-prepared for refugee care.

However, on the positive side, AHGOs have the ability to reach surge capacity quickly. Surge capacity, in a humanitarian context, is defined as “the ability of an organization to rapidly and effectively increase its available resources in a specific geographic location.” The Humanitarian Practice Network defines surge capacity as the ability to “scale operations [people, money, and materials] up swiftly, smoothly and productively.”

Reports on standard INGOs express their inability to reach surge capacity. Therefore, the AHGO’s ability to reach surge capacity is favorable. It further demonstrates the speedy effectiveness of grassroots movements. Humanitarian aid can benefit from the buffed and nuanced structure of longstanding INGOs as well as the small-scale potency of AHGOs.

Rebeca Ilisoi

Photo: Flickr