States of emergency declared in Sudan amid violent protests over rising food prices
Several regions of Sudan have declared states of emergency as violent protests over rising food prices erupted across the country.
Curfews were imposed and schools were closed in several cities in Darfur, North Kordofan, West Kordofan and Sennar as rioting crowds looted and set fire to shops, and stole food from markets.
The areas where the protests have taken place are among the poorest and most food insecure in Sudan.
Sudan's transitional government has blamed supporters of former president Omar Al-Bashir for the food riots.
Bashir was overthrown following protests in April 2019 and the government has recently ordered the prosecution of members of Bashir’s party.
Living standards are falling in Sudan amid mounting economic woes for the country, leaving millions of people struggling. The Sudanese pound continues to lose its value against the dollar, falling from 260 pounds to the dollar in November,to 315 pounds to the dollar last month.
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, inflation rose to 269 percent in December, up from 254 percent the previous month.
This has seen the price of food rise dramatically, stoking genuine fears of famine.
If the situation does not improve, food insecurity in parts of Kordorfan and Darfur will reach crisis levels in the coming months, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network.
The cost of daily staples like bread have shot up. Subsidised loaves have more than doubled in value, rising from 2 pounds to 5 pounds — as unsubsidised bread, which has become increasingly scarce, is sold for as much as 15 or 20 pounds in some parts of Khartoum, and for 50 pounds in Darfur and Kordofan.
The price of a kilo of sugar has risen from 150 pounds in 2020 to 220 pounds today.
The international community has urged Sudan to devalue its currency, saying this will help the country secure loans.
“People are always protesting here and there, demanding justice for those who have been killed, or demanding better politics by having freedoms and the civilian transmission in governance,” Mohamed Babikir, an activist who took part in the protests that toppled Bashir in 2019 told The Guardian.
In North Korodofan’s capital, El-Obeid, which has witnessed many protests, Bashir el-Sadig, a teacher at a girls’ secondary school, explained to The Guardian that over half the students require assistance to buy food.
“Many of them work as cleaners as well, to help themselves and their families. People really are struggling and that’s the mistake of the [central] government, they didn’t provide enough subsidised food,” he said.