South Sudan: Corporate partners see our work in action

Executives from six organisations spent a week in remote parts of South Sudan where they visited doctors who carry out war surgery and watched as thousands of residents gathered for food assistance.

The visit by the Corporate Support Group (CSG), the second-ever such visit hosted by ICRC, allowed partners in the business world to understand how the organization provides much needed assistance to the South Sudanese and to look into potential avenues for collaboration. The first CSG visit took place last year in Jordan. This year, the participating CSG companies and foundations were ABB, Avina Stiftung, Lombard Odier and Novartis. In addition, Nespresso and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) also joined the group.



ICRC Vice-President Christine Beerli, who led the five-day visit, said the ICRC sees great importance in working closely with the private sector so the organization can learn new technologies and best practices. "We think it's extremely important to show to our corporate partners a comprehensive operation such as South Sudan, and of course it is important to work more closely with the private sector because we can learn from each other," Beerli said.

Support in action

The CSG witnessed food drops from a Hercules C130 aircraft and the subsequent distribution of food. The group also visited an internally displaced camp, a cattle vaccination programme and a remote frontline hospital. In the capital, Juba, the group watched a wheelchair basketball game at an ICRC-supported orthopedic centre.

Patricia Danzi, ICRC's chief of Africa operations, said such a trip can make a strong impression on people less familiar with the assistance ICRC provides. "No one can be indifferent going to the field in South Sudan. No one can be indifferent to the suffering," she said while listing the country's huge food and medical needs. "The visit will make an impression and I think it will also enhance mutual understanding."

The massive food distribution took place in Toch, in the eastern state of Jonglei. Sibylle Feltrin, managing director of Avina Stiftung, said she was surprised to see so many people "in good humour, smiling, open minded and coming to us and talking".

"When we flew over the region one could think there is nothing at all and then there are suddenly hundreds, thousands of people coming out of the bush and they are waiting for their food, waiting for help of ICRC, and that is very emotional to see,"said Feltrin.

 The private sector plays an increasing role in supporting ICRC activities around the world. South Sudan is our biggest operation in Africa and the second largest worldwide, after Syria. That requires extensive resources that come partly from corporate partners, who also want to see what the reality on the ground is.

Jürg Eglin, head of ICRC in South Sudan

The Corporate Support Group

The Corporate Support Group (CSG) was created in 2005. Its current membership includes ABB, Avina Stiftung, Credit Suisse, Fondation Hans Wilsdorf, Fondation Lombard Odier, LafargeHolcim, Novartis, Philips Foundation, Hoffman La Roche, Swiss Re Foundation, Vontobel and Zürich Insurance Group.

The ICRC and CSG members explore the possibilities to find innovative solutions to specific strategic challenges that we face, by aligning their assets, skills and networks.

In 2015 the CSG contributed more than CHF 12 million to the ICRC. However, the main driver of interaction is focused on humanitarian impact through joint projects on issues such as non-communicable diseases, mother and child care, energy solutions, medical logistics, waste management, new technologies and innovative financial instruments