We are pleased to announce that we anticipate participating in a major delivery of 100 ambulances filled with medical equipment, the destination for which will be the impoverished southern regions of Pakistan, which continue to suffer ever since the catastrophic floods of 2010.
The vast majority of the aid will be shipped by the most efficient means — literally by ship. However, a small contingent of around 20 vehicles will be taken in the traditional convoy style in order to generate publicity and raise funds along the way.
We are delighted to be able to offer our convoy expertise to our partners from “The Aid Team” in this endeavour. They have already completed one successful mission to Pakistan and have become involved in several local projects there. We look forward to sharing first-hand information about them when our team return.
Our volunteers expect to set off in August 2014.
Aid Convoy makes a strong commitment to every community with which it works. Because of this, and to promote efficiency, we tend to stick with a relatively deep involvement in a relatively small number of countries. This has often kept us within the sphere of Eastern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
This year, however, our director Kieran Turner has taken some time to work with other organisations in South Sudan. The situation there is a typical post-conflict mess, with hundreds of thousands of people displaced – often violently – from their homes. Territorial disputes are partly to blame, not least because oil has been found in one disputed region. But there are also ethnic tensions stretching back to the genocides of Rwanda, Darfur, and before. Struggles for resources now play an increasing rôle too.
In the hastily erected refugee camps, whole families often share a tiny, basic tent, made of local timber poles held together with plastic sheeting supplied by the United Nations. Access to water for sanitation and drinking is the most immediate problem. Several international agencies are hurriedly digging bore-holes, erecting latrines, and attempting to educate people about the special techniques required to maintain hygiene in such conditions. Whilst living like this, and being dependant on food hand-outs from the UN and its supporting charities, a further intolerable burden is the constant risk of young men being forcibly taken back to participate in the fighting.
The picture in this article shows one refugee camp on the World Food Programme’s food distribution day. Families come from many miles away because the camps each house tens of thousands of people and sprawl over large areas. Sometimes this in itself is a problem as territorial disputes occur. In the dry season, with temperatures approaching 50℃ it is hard work carrying the large sacks of bulk food (sorghum or rice, usually, with nothing else available). But this is nothing compared with the rainy season, when the entire camp becomes a mosquito-ridden swamp.
We are extremely moved by the crisis in South Sudan and are pleased that one of our core team members was able to devote six months to living and working in the refugee camp. The insights gained will no doubt be useful to us in future emergencies.