South Sudan Will Now Charge $10,000 For An Aid Worker Permit. Why?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Late last month, famine was declared in two counties of the civil-war torn East African country of South Sudan. With 100,000 people at risk for dying of starvation in that area alone and millions more on the brink of crisis-level food shortages throughout the country, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir promised “unimpeded access” to humanitarian aid organizations working there.

A few days later the South Sudanese government hiked the fee for work permits for foreign aid workers from $100 to $10,000.

It’s unclear whether the fee would apply only to newcomers or to those already there as well. Whatever the case, the amount is “absolutely unheard of globally,” said Julien Schopp, director for Humanitarian Practice at InterAction, an alliance of 180 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working around the world. “No organization can afford this, and if NGOs go to their institutional donors to request that extra money, I’m pretty sure that [the donors] will be reluctant to pay this because they will see this to some extent as ransom.” With the South Sudan experiencing a poor economy, the government is seeking revenue “wherever it can find it,” he says.

Joel Charny, director of the Norwegian Refugee Council USA, similarly views this as an example of seeing foreigners and foreign aid workers as sources of income. As for the timing, it “could not be worse,” he says.

Source: NPR (link opens in a new window)