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

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs