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UNHCR and UPS Launch New Global Partnership for Improving Emergency Logistics


By: Nevena Demirovic and Nathalie Brunet, UNHCR

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and UPS, a global package delivery company, have launched a new multi-year global partnership for improving emergency logistics.

This partnership marks a new phase in the now long-standing relationship between UNHCR and UPS. The relationship was first formed after an initial contact was made in 2009 at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos where UNHCR organized an introductory meeting with The UPS Foundation which led to further brainstorming sessions on potential needs and a fact finding mission to Uganda and Kenya refugee camps to determine how UPS is best positioned to assist. Following these discussions and missions, the following key areas of collaboration were identified: Emergency Support & Transportation, Storage Facility Capacity, and Goods and Supply Tracking. The partnership began with an in-kind donation towards UNHCR’s transportation needs and has since then has grown into this new multi-year global partnership – making the UN Refugee Agency one of their top tier grantees.

As a concrete example of the impact of this partnership, UPS in-kind donations toward emergency response, capacity building projects and delivery of aid supplies were instrumental during the 2011 Libyan emergency, where 10,000 mattresses were transported to refugees in Tunisia. Moreover, UPS donations were crucial during the 2012 Mali and South Sudan emergencies, where thirteen tons of UNHCR aid items were transported to Mauritania over one weekend to 10,000 Malians in the Mbera refugee camp and 6 air charters operating from Juba to Palouge were funded, allowing for UNHCR to utilize an emergency grant for additional transportation needs. UPS’s contribution reached an estimated 98,000 beneficiaries in more than three camps in South Sudan.

Last year, UPS also supported a UNHCR study which will result in shorter response time and less global inventory. This helps to optimize the locations of UNHCR global warehouses. As a result, 600,000 beneficiaries will receive material assistance more quickly and more cost-effectively than before. Another innovative collaboration is the UNHCR UPS tracking solution, which allows for the scaling up of aid distribution in terms of capturing data and recording the supplies distributed to refugees. The development of barcoding software customized for UNHCR has been followed by physical testing and piloting of the project in the field.

Lastly, UPS also supported and made possible UNHCR’s travelling photo exhibition “Nowhere People: The World’s Stateless” by award-winning American photographer Greg Constantine. This exhibition, a key component of UNHCR’s global campaign to end Statelessness, has toured three continents since December 2010 and has been shown at many prestigious venues strategically timed to coincide with the passing of relevant legislation and the release of national reports or key meetings with governments. The exhibit has been seen by approximately 50,000 people.

In 2013, UPS will continue to support UNHCR’s work focusing on emergencies and UNHCR’s capacity building projects.

For more information, please contact: Nathalie Brunet, Communications Officer, UNHCR Leadership Giving