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South Sudan

Currency collapse, famine loom as fighting continues in South Sudan

Residents displaced by fighting in Malakal camp, South Sudan
Residents displaced by fighting in Malakal camp, South Sudan Reuters/Drazen Jorgic

Experts are warning South Sudan may soon see a currency collapse, as high inflation cripples the country. This comes as fighting continues between government and rebel forces around South Sudan’s last remaining functioning oil fields.

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The African Union on Sunday demanded sanctions and an arms embargo be imposed on South Sudan's warring leaders, to stem an escalation in the conflict. The world’s youngest country has endured 17 months of brutal civil war, but the destruction of infrastructure and continual displacement of peoples has left the economy and critical food production in chaos.

The constant displacement of peoples is making stable employment rare, continuously smothering the fledgling economy. Up to 90 per cent of the government's income had come from oil revenues from the now all but destroyed wells.

The communications director for the World Food Programme in the country’s capital Juba, George Fominyen, told RFI that “this year at least 2.5 million people started the year unsure of where their next meal was coming from, and the number is only set to increase”. He describes the severe food scarcity that is present not only in areas directly hit by the conflict but across all of South Sudan.

Some areas are now on the brink of famine and the UN reports that more than half of the country's 12 million people are in need of assistance, making South Sudan one of the most aid-dependent states.

In the northern town of Malakal, an area rich in oil, the UN began to reinstate order and security in a community that had bore witness to countless atrocities. Life was returning to the shattered streets, but just more than a week ago rebel forces launched an assault on the strategic town, which once again destroyed the new shoots of stability.

Ariane Quentier, the spokesperson for the UN’s mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), told RFI: “This is as big of a set back as it’s possible to have when you’re trying to restore peace.”

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