News / Africa

South Sudan Unrest Sees Food, Fuel, Phone Airtime Run Short

South Sudan army soldiers stand next to a destroyed motorcycle near Bor Airport in Jonglei state, Dec. 25, 2013.
South Sudan army soldiers stand next to a destroyed motorcycle near Bor Airport in Jonglei state, Dec. 25, 2013.
As clashes continue around South Sudan, even states that have managed to remain peaceful are feeling the effects of 12 days of unrest with food, fuel and even mobile phone airtime starting to run out and prices rising sharply.

No fighting has been reported in the Eastern Equatoria town of Torit, but resident Lagu James Thomas says he has not been able to make any phone calls since Monday.

“I asked for airtime. I found that airtime for two pounds has raised to three pounds, and for five pounds, it is six pounds... Now it is not even there in the market,” he told VOA News.

Because he has been unable to buy minutes for his phone, Thomas has not been able to contact family members who live in Juba, where hundreds were killed when the clashes first erupted on Dec. 15 in what President Salva Kiir said was a bid to oust him, led by former Vice President Riek Machar.

Thomas said that, in addition to the rising prices of phone airtime, Torit residents are beginning to see shortages in the town's markets of fruits and vegetables, which have to be trucked in from Juba, 214 kilometers away.

Torr Majuor, who supplies telephone airtime cards to shops around Torit, said he has not been able to get supplies from Juba since the fighting began, and not for lack of trying.

“We ordered from Juba. They refused to give us the cards,” he said.

Because phone companies "are fearing of the incidents that have happened in Juba," Majuor said, they have refused to send new batches of airtime cards to Torit, even though the town and the state of Eastern Equatoria have remained peaceful throughout the strife.

The companies' fear is that "if they send, they may lose the airtime on the way," because all goods have to be shipped by road to Torit from Juba "because we don't have any plane," Majuor said.

Residents have reported seeing groups of armed men near the road leading to Eastern Equatoria state from the South Sudanese capital, which is in neighboring Central Equatoria.

The price hikes have impacted South Sudanese in other ways, too.

Primary school teacher Angelina Jacob was supposed to spend Christmas in Juba, but when she arrived at the bus depot on Tuesday morning, she found she could no longer afford the fare, which had more than doubled on Christmas Eve to 150 pounds from the 60 pounds she used to pay.

Marko Kwirino, the head of the state Drivers’ Union, warned that prices for all forms of transport, including local buses, will continue to rise as fuel shortages caused by the fighting push the cost of gasoline and diesel up.

“These days, there is no fuel," he said.

"People on the black market are selling 20 liters for 200 to 250 pounds... In Torit, we are running short on fuel,”  Kwirino said.

Some shops have been able to keep prices down, but shopkeepers warned that will change if the fighting does not stop soon.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (L-R), South Sudan President Salva Kiir and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta meet in the capital Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 26, 2013.Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (L-R), South Sudan President Salva Kiir and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta meet in the capital Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 26, 2013.
x
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (L-R), South Sudan President Salva Kiir and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta meet in the capital Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 26, 2013.
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (L-R), South Sudan President Salva Kiir and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta meet in the capital Juba, South Sudan, Dec. 26, 2013.
As Kiir met Thursday in Juba with African officials including Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to try to chart a way out of the crisis, rebel forces loyal to Machar said they are ready to hold talks with the government, on condition that 11 politicians who were detained when the troubles began are released from jail.

The government has so far said it will not release the 11.

After regional African leaders met in Nairobi on Friday to discuss the unrest in South Sudan, Kenyatta said there is a "very small window of opportunity to secure peace" in the world's newest nation, where more than 1,000 people have been killed and tens of thousands displaced in nearly two weeks of fighting.

The head of the U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Hilde Johnson, said in a video news conference Thursday that the unrest threatened South Sudan's very nationhood and called on the country's leaders to urgently take steps to restore peace.

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More