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

Arab League Delays Forming Joint Force

Delay grows out of one of original obstacles facing pan-Arab force, analysts say: 'They may agree on the principle, but they continue to argue about how to implement the project' More

Pakistan Demands Afghanistan Protect Its Kabul Mission, Staff

Officials in Islamabad say Afghan agents are harassing Pakistani embassy personnel, particularly those living outside of mission’s compound More

US Survey: Trump Lead Grows in Republican Presidential Contest

Quinnipiac University poll shows brash billionaire real estate mogul with 28 percent support among Republican voters More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs