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Bread shortage crisis hits Sudan

Devaluation of Sudanese pound and lack of foreign currency hit economy and lead to bread queues in capital Khartoum.

Last updated: 19 Nov 2013 17:04
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Bread costs a third more since the Sudanese pound was devalued [Getty]

Sudan is battling a bread shortage amid an economic crisis sparked by a loss of oil revenue and months after riots over the government's removal of subsidies from fuel.

Bakers in the capital, Khartoum, blame the shortages on a lack of foreign currency to buy wheat from abroad since the devaluing of the Sudanese pound last week as part of an austerity policy.

The head of the bakeries union, al-Tayeb al-Umraby, told the local al-Sudany newspaper on Monday that some bakers had complained they were receiving only half the amount of wheat normally supplied to them by the government.

"They blame Sudan's central bank for failing to provide foreign currency to import wheat," Umraby said.

The deputy head of parliament, Hajw Kasam al-Sayed, said that Sudan had wheat stocks for 25 days. The Central Bank does not disclose its foreign reserves. The government has not commented on the capital's bread scarcity.

Bread prices have also risen by a third since the government devalued the Sudanese pound, as it battles an economic crisis caused by a loss of oil revenue from the now independent South Sudan.

Sudan does not grow enough wheat to fulfil its needs.

"For the last three days I have to spend at least two hours a day waiting for bread," said Khalifa Hassan while waiting with about 10 others at a bakery in northern Khartoum. 

"If this continues, people will not keep silent," he added.

In September, dozens of people were killed and more than 700 arrested in violent protests after the government cut fuel subsidies and doubled pump prices overnight.

The violence prompted the government to defer plans to reduce wheat subsidies, an official in the ruling National Congress Party said at the time.

The subsidy cuts are part of a $1.23bn austerity package the government introduced in July 2012 to deal with an economic crisis.

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