Moving stuff in difficult places, and what we can learn from this for Brexit

Over the past months I had the privilege to evaluate logistics responses in two of the major crises of our time, Syria and South Sudan. The experiences could not have been more different. While both regimes share a certain liking for imposing strict standards and rules, the effects are markedly different. In Syria, rules and regulations for the importation of humanitarian goods are applied consistently if strictly, and when actors make an effort to inform themselves they can use them to their advantage – as their strict application can be relied upon, favouring the prepared. In South Sudan on the other hand, rules and regulations appear to be used more randomly. The difference seems to lie in the application. While in Syria, it is consistent and therefore can be ‘relied upon’, in South Sudan it is inconsistent and not applied in an efficient manner. The result is obvious – while despite open conflict and international conflict in Syria humanitarian goods get into the country almost as easily as in any country at peace, in South Sudan it is even a nightmare to ship stuff within government territory. This goes to show that one cannot equal authoritarian regimes with diffiulties in providing aid – at least as far as getting things in are concerned. Rather, the deciding factor is the strength of the administration. So, to learn from this for Brexit which seems to slowly shape itself into a potential humanitarian crisis in Europe, rules are not the problem but how efficiently they are applied – and how well its subjects are prepared for them. Food for thought…..

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