South Sudan Visa Fee Hike Worries Aid Agencies

The government of South Sudan has surprised the world by proposing to increase work permit fees to a massive $10,000.  Aid workers around the world have long been under pressure to hire more local workers, or at least more from Africa.  South Sudan had already increased the visa fee earlier in March for all foreign workers although the United Nations managed to get the government to exempt foreign aid workers from this rise. The war-torn country is heavily reliant on aid especially at the moment when severe drought has added to the humanitarian crisis in the country.

Aid workers are dismayed at the increases.  Casual workers’ fees have risen from $100 to $1000, while so called blue collar workers have had their fees increased to $2000 up from $150 and the visa class for professionals has seen the largest increase from an already high $3000 to a massive $10,000.

Many work permit fees are higher in countries that rely on as they use them as a valuable additional source of income but there is concern from the aid agencies and NGO’s that these hike will deter aid workers and divert much needed funds away from providing the critical aid that many of those in the country desperately need.

The move comes in the wake of other African countries tightening up on visas for aid workers. Kenya has recently targeted aid workers who jump from one organisation to another, and has put pressure on the NGO’s to show that jobs given to aid workers will eventually be given to local Kenyan’s once they are trained.  Uganda too believe that locals are losing out to foreign aid workers and stress that wherever possible jobs should go to local workers and not foreign workers.  South Sudan hopes that these visa hikes will go some way to redressing the balance and passing jobs back to the local workforce.

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