Food Shortages and Corruption Spark Protests in Northeast Sudan
Thousands of people took to the streets of Atbara city in northeast Sudan on Thursday to protest rising food prices and corruption, Reuters reports.
The demonstration began on Wednesday with protesters peacefully chanting, speaking out against corruption, and calling for accountability from the government.
The initial protesters were joined by hundreds more people on Thursday after the Sudanese government declared a state of emergency in response to the protest and set a citywide curfew in Atbara.
As the mass of protesters grew, the demonstrations turned violent with some attendees setting tires on fire, Reuters reports.
"I went out to protest because life has stopped in Atbara," a 36-year-old man who had participated in Wednesday's demonstration told Reuters.
"Prices have increased and I have still not been able to withdraw my November salary ... because of the liquidity crisis. These are difficult conditions that we can't live with, and the government doesn't care about us," he said.
In Sudan, ongoing conflict and government corruption have come at the expense of everyday citizens' human rights —especially those living in poverty. Food insecurity is a major problem faced by many throughout the country. Around 80% of people in Sudan cannot afford the food they need day to day and nearly 40% are malnourished, according to the World Food Programme. More than 2 million children under the age of 5 suffer from stunting as a result of malnutrition, according to UNICEF.
Inflation in Sudan has reached 69%, devaluing their currency. Bread prices have more than tripled since the beginning of 2018, after the government decided to stop importing wheat from overseas, Al Jazeera reports. As a result, people can be seen waiting in long lines outside of bakeries to buy bread.
The country's economic situation has taken a serious toll on its, who have been through civil war and, in recent months, have struggled with corruption along with fuel and food shortages.
Much of Sudan's economic hardship has stemmed from its civil war, which caused widespread displacement and destruction, and ended with the secession of South Sudan in 2011. As a result, the Northern part of the country lost more than 75% of its oil reserves, a major source of revenue. Humanitarian crisis in both the north and south continue to put lives at risk.
While thousands gathered in Atbara — the historical center of anti-government protests in Sudan — it's not the only place Sudanese people gathered to express their frustrations. People also voiced their anger through protests in the cities of Dongola, Sennar, al-Qadarif, and the capital of Khartoum, Reuters reports.
While all the protests began peacefully, vandalism and violence has ensued, leaving at least one person dead in the city of al-Qadarif, Al Jazeera reports.