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Our History « International Aid Services America

What began with relief supplies to South Sudan 25 years ago is now an established aid organization with 350 employees in 10 countries. But IAS mission today is the same as then: Helping unreached and underprivileged communities to reach the people who are in most need of help.

Over 25 years have passed since IAS was launched on a New Years Eve, a decision made by Leif Zetterlund, along with three other families who for some years lived and worked together in South Sudan.

Leif Zetterlund and his family had worked for several years in a government-controlled Juba and had seen the plight of the people. There was Sudan´s Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) who fought for independence, while the LRA (Lord Resistance Army) was active further south towards the Ugandan border, whose troops kidnapped children and forced them to become soldiers.

The desperation was great and the people lacked basic necessities like water, food and clothes. At the same time, many aid agencies left Juba. “Something must be done” said Leif and IAS was launched on New Years Eve 1989, whose acronym originally was short for International Aid Sweden. IAS started to send relief items via Uganda to Yei and Kajo Keji and even back then the organization was driven by the words:

Need, Injustice, and that no one is responding to the calls of the population.

Helping unreached and underprivileged people groups has continued to be the driving force/motivation in IAS, whose vision today is to ‘to save lives, promote self-reliance and dignity through human transformation, going beyond relief and development’.

Today IAS runs programs in 10 countries, including both humanitarian and long-term development programs, primarily in the Horn of Africa, East Africa and the Sahel.

Historically IAS has mainly engaged in short-term humanitarian interventions such as water and food for refugees and internally displaced people. But with the expansion of the organization, long-term development work has also become a priority, which not only includes people’s right to clean water, but also the right to education for all, including children with disabilities. IAS has also invested in the development of civil society across all programs, including in areas that are repeatedly affected by conflict, drought and famine, says Daniel Zetterlund, CEO of IAS, Sweden.

IAS will continue to focus on growth in vulnerable and underserved areas that have needs related to IAS’s areas of expertise. IAS is preparing to launch operations in North Africa and the Middle East, where there is a great need to help unreached and underprivileged people groups.

IAS America

IAS America began in 2005 and is one of four Alliance Members within the IAS International Alliance (headquartered in Sweden).  Other Alliance members are: Sweden, Denmark, and Germany.  Although IAS America is self-governing, it shares its mission, vision, values, and logo with the other alliance members; and IAS America supports and is supported by the IAS head office located in Sweden.

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