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

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.