June 12, 2012 (WAU) - South Sudan’s of Northern Bahr el Ghazal State is experiencing severe food shortage, forcing some people to move to urban areas to seek help from the local government, as food prices increase across the country.
Speaking in an interview with Sudan Tribune upon arrival at Wau bus station from Aweil town, capital of the state, Mary Atong Deng, said she and her family members decided to leave Aweil because they were finding it difficult to live in a town where they can’t afford to buy food.
The cost of basic commodities, especially the cost of staple food items like sorghum for instance, has tripled. Women in the Aweil’s market told Sudan Tribune that a bag of cooking charcoal in Wau costs 100 South Sudan pounds ($32), up from 30 SSP ($10) in early 2011. A bag of onion now costs 250 SSP from pounds from 50 SSP before the border between Sudan and South Sudan was closed shortly before South Sudan’s independence in July 2011.
"We don’t know what will happen in the months ahead. Food items are generally becoming expensive in the market to afford. We also have no jobs. My husband is not working although he is educated. He tells me he is having difficulties finding jobs with the government since we returned from Khartoum in April, 2012, so we decided to leave so that we come and try here”, said Atong.
Atong said her husband was working in Khartoum before South Sudan seceded in July 2011. At the time around 500,000 South Sudanese lived in north Sudan but their citizenship was revoked and many decided to migrate to the newly-independent country rather than attempt to stay on as a foreign national in Khartoum.
Atong said that the Indian company her husband worked for as a plumber let him go because he no longer held Sudanese citizenship. She also worked with companies before she was laid off.
“Our life was good when we were in Khartoum because my husband and I were working but things became difficult when we came [back to South Sudan]. Our government in Juba needs to do something. Everything is becoming difficult that we had to sell all our belongings. We have sold our beds. We sold all chairs and other valuable furniture but we are still finding it difficult. We are indeed suffering," Atong explained.
Citizens complain prices have tripled since the start of the year but authorities point out the challenges that have come with independence.
Sudan closed the border with South Sudan stopping trade and causing price increases. An oil transit fee dispute led to Juba stopping exporting its crude through Sudan, depriving Juba of vital hard currency.
“It is true there are challenges which the government together with the international community is aware but our people need to exercise patience and tie their belts and go to the land and till”, Angelo Mayar Acho, speaker of Western Bahr el Ghazal State Legislative Assembly said in an interview with Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.
Acho put the higher costs down to Sudan’s decision to close border and started bombing South Sudan’s territory. Khartoum denies this despite it being reported by the UN.
Sudan and South Sudan have resumed post-partition negotiations after the fought a brief border war in March and April.
"This is exactly an economic war. The government in Sudan unilaterally decided to close border and imposed war on us. What can we do? Our people should go back to the land and till it”, the official explained.