News / Africa

UN Fears for South Sudanese as Austerity Bites

Aid workers outside a food store in troubled Jonglei state, where inter communal violence affected around 170,000 people at the start of the year, South Sudan, January 2012. (VOA Photo - H. McNeish)
Aid workers outside a food store in troubled Jonglei state, where inter communal violence affected around 170,000 people at the start of the year, South Sudan, January 2012. (VOA Photo - H. McNeish)
Hannah McNeish
JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN - The United Nations has voiced concern about South Sudan’s ailing economy and says its people could suffer from spiraling inflation in the coming months, while around half the population already faces food shortages.  

South Sudan has taken in little revenue since January, when the government shut down oil production amid a dispute with Sudan over transit fees.
 
South Sudan’s U.N. humanitarian coordinator, Lise Grande, said Tuesday the organization fears the economic downturn that followed the shutdown could have a huge impact on the population in the coming months.

“I think what we’re very worried about is that austerity, as it bites deeper and deeper into households - it’s going to have to be humanitarian agencies that are going to have to step up their operations, step up their support, and help those families make it through,” said Grande.

South Sudan took over three-quarters of Sudan's oil reserves when it became independent last July, but relies on its former civil war foe to export its crude through northern pipelines and a port.

The south has refused to pay what it considers excessive fees to use those facilities, and in January took the drastic step of shutting down all oil production.  The move was especially crippling since South Sudan depends on oil for 98 percent of its revenue.
The lack of revenue has hit the import-dependent economy hard, and leaked documents from a World Bank briefing in March warned that the economy could collapse as early as July if the shutdown continues and harder austerity measures are not imposed.

Grande said it would be left up to aid agencies to support the population.

“Unless the oil production is started again, the number of people who are going to require emergency assistance is going to be rising in the next coming weeks and months,” said Grande.

But the U.N. said it has received only 32 percent of a $760 million appeal made before the oil shutdown.  It says the recent border clashes between Sudan and South Sudan will likely increase funding needs.

Food is the major problem in South Sudan.  U.N. agencies have predicted that 4.7 million people would face shortages in 2012 due to erratic rains, internal violence and closure of trade routes along the as-yet-undefined border with Sudan.

Now, the lack of dollars in impoverished South Sudan has sparked inflation in food prices, and Grande fears that the number of people forced down to just one meal a day could quickly rise from an already startling 2.7 million.

“We can already tell that with the depreciating currency, that the price of basic food commodities is increasing," added Grande. "In some places we are seeing increases of as high as 300 percent and in the border communities on average the increase for basic supplies has been 100-200 percent.”

The U.N.’s World Food Programme (WFP) is racing the clock to try to pre-position enough food for rising numbers of people in need, who include people displaced by the violence, refugees, returnees from Sudan and farmers whose crops have failed.

But the WFP also faces a shortfall of $100 million and unless the oil is turned on or a bailout for South Sudan appears soon, the population looks set to get hungrier.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

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