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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs