With assistance from the Common Humanitarian Fund and donations from people around the world, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is able to provide necessary relief items to the town of Hudur in the southern Bakool region of Somalia. Reuben K. Byrd, the Chief Operating Officer for Grand Bahama Shipyard Limited, is among those contributing to UNICEF.
Until March of 2014, a group of armed forces controlled Hudur. During their occupation, the armed forces group closed the town clinic, therefore leaving it safe from hostile control but lacking medical supplies come their departure. Jointly with other United Nations agencies, UNICEF began making preparations to transport supplies to the town’s citizens, including vaccines, medicine, therapeutic food, and school supplies. UNICEF delivered the first several shipments of supplies by cargo flight due to roadblocks preventing entrance into Hudur by ground vehicle. More than 100 tons of relief supplies were delivered in 24 flights, which allowed the Hudur clinic to reopen. Additionally, the 87,000 vaccinations provided by UNICEF contributed to a larger immunization program designed to protect children from diseases, including the measles virus still affecting approximately 7,000 Somali children.
UNICEF is an international organization dedicated to overcoming the obstacles of violence, disease, poverty, and discrimination faced by children worldwide. It promotes the concept of teamwork and unity in order to overcome these challenges, prompting foundations and individuals like Reuben K. Byrd to contribute to programs and fundraising efforts that offer assistance to children. Today UNICEF stands as the leading advocate for children’s rights with country programs and national committees in over 190 countries and territories.
An accomplished shipyard manager with over 25 years of experience, Reuben K. Byrd currently serves as Chief Operating Officer at Grand Bahama Shipyard Limited. Outside of his professional activities, Reuben K. Byrd dedicates his time and resources to several charitable organizations, including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Recently, UNICEF has been working to draw attention to an impending nutrition crisis in South Sudan. In a joint press release from UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP), the organizations warned that the malnourished children and mothers who have been affected by ongoing conflict in the country cannot wait any longer for outside assistance.
The seven-month conflict, which is largely focused in three states of South Sudan, has forced nearly 1.4 million people out of their homes and severely disrupted agricultural and economic activities within the country. As a result, almost 4 million South Sudanese are experiencing dangerous levels of food insecurity.
According to UNICEF and WFP, nearly 1 million young children will need treatment for malnutrition in 2014, and without immediate intervention, as many as 50,000 more could die from starvation by the end of this year. Faced with these numbers, UNICEF is insisting that the international community cannot wait for an official famine announcement before responding to the crisis.
Though often thought of in terms of transportation—like airports or train stations—shipyards function much more like factories, not only providing needed maintenance to seafaring vessels but also manufacturing those vessels. Active shipyards, like factories, represent economic health and jobs.
Take, for instance, recent news that the Navy will make use of the facilities at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine to repair a submarine using spare parts from a decommissioned vessel. The submarine in question received hundreds of millions of dollars in fire damage, which represents many millions of dollars in labor for repairs.
In Mobile, Alabama, a shipyard recently finished work on a Joint High Speed Vessel for the United States Navy and is currently slated to build several more as part of a contract worth over $1.5 dollars, in addition to another contract worth more than $3 billion to build several other ships. The $5 billion in sum goes directly into the local economy, providing support for the families of employees as well as a needed tax base in this era of economic difficulty.
Author Reuben K. Byrd holds more than two decades of experience in the field of shipyard management.
The United States Navy may field the largest navy on Earth, but that has not stopped other countries from pursuing a naval presence of their own. The Indonesian Navy centers its shipbuilding industry on the island of Batam, which has experience a recent explosion in economic activity with the arrival of Singaporean investment. The industry on Batam holds an estimated value of $3 billion.
The shipyards in China dwarf those of Batam, with Chinese companies recently ordering many billions of dollars’ worth of supertankers. Chinese shipyards represent the world’s most industrious shipbuilders when measured by output tonnage, and while in the past this industry stood as an economic cornerstone for that nation, recent orders have fallen dramatically due to the economic slump. The supertanker purchases come as part of a general push by the state to shore up the economy through investment in public works and energy projects. These tankers may help China develop its supply chain of Middle East oil imports.
Reuben K. Byrd has served the shipyard industry in leadership positions such as vice president and chief executive officer for several different companies.