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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid