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May 21, 2014

Thousands of people have died and more than a million people have been displaced since civil war broke out in South Sudan in December 2013. Because of the war a food crisis is underway, likely to become a famine. The widespread displacement of people has interrupted the usual planting season, fishermen have had to abandon rivers, and usually-bustling markets have been deserted.

In an appeal to international donors to help aid groups mitigate the crisis, a United Nations press release says that "by the end of this year, half of South Sudan's 12 million people will be either in flight, facing starvation, or dead." The bleak situation has been made worse by a confirmed cholera outbreak, which is likely to spread with the rainy season approaching and so many displaced people living in makeshift shelters without access to clean water.

Funding for aid is urgently needed in South Sudan. Once the rainy season is underway, more than half of the country will not be accessible by road, and humanitarian groups will have to resort to expensive air-lifting of food, medications, and sanitation equipment.

CharityWatch announces its top-rated list of charities involved in efforts to provide relief to victims of the crisis in South Sudan. CharityWatch, a leading charity watchdog that issues letter grade (A+ to F) ratings of nonprofit groups, identifies the following charities, which are providing aid to the victims that receive an “A” or “B” grade based on the portion of their budget going to program services and their fundraising efficiency:
Note: Links will open in a new window

Top-rated charities perform favorably in relation to CharityWatch benchmarks:
1) A charity should spend at least 75% of its budget on program services.
2) A charity should spend no more than $25 to raise $100.

Contact your favorite charities to find out if they provide the specific types of aid that you would like to fund, e.g., emergency relief, health care, infrastructure development, education, etc.

As with any charitable contribution, Americans wanting to help South Sudan relief efforts should send contributions to only those charities with an established track record of helping people in this region. Disreputable, fly-by-night “charities” always exist to take advantage of the public’s generosity.

The best way to help is by sending a check. Cash donations enable charities to buy the most needed type of food, medicine, clothing, shelter materials and other supplies. By buying relief products locally or regionally, charities can reduce shipping costs and more rapidly deliver assistance. Before sending any goods, first contact the charity to find out if they are appropriate and if it will be cost effective to distribute them. For example, after the tsunami, boxes of donated winter coats, scarves and fuzzy hats, completely useless items in tsunami stricken nations with tropical climates, were sent to these nations.

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