Sudan warns medicine, fuel, wheat running out amid port blockade

Major disruption of crucial supplies comes as protesting Beja tribe from eastern Sudan blocks roads and forces Port Sudan to close.

Demonstrators in Sudan have blocked key roads and a vital port to protest parts of a peace deal with rebel groups [File: Ibrahim Ishaq/AFP]

Sudan’s government warned the country is running out of life-saving medicines, fuel, and wheat stocks because of the closure of its main port in the east of the country during ongoing protests.

In recent weeks, demonstrators from the Beja tribe have blocked roads around Port Sudan and forced Red Sea ports to close, protesting against what they say is a lack of political power and poor economic conditions.

In a statement released on Sunday, the cabinet acknowledged eastern Sudan’s “just cause” and stressed the right to peaceful protest, but warned the closure of the port and highways connecting the region with the rest of the country was “harming the interest of all Sudanese”.

Protests took place as the country is marking one year since the signing of the Juba agreement between the government and rebel groups that was meant to resolve years-long conflict. However, members of the Beja tribe claim they have been excluded from it.

Last month, protesters closed two main oil pipelines, including the only one transporting fuel to the capital Khartoum. On September 26, demonstrators agree to allow the resumption of exports of landlocked South Sudan’s crude oil via a terminal on the Red Sea.

The cabinet pledged to work on a political solution to the problems of eastern Sudan and called on the protesters to start a dialogue with the government.

However, members of the Beja tribe seem far from complying with the central government’s request as they have barricaded roads to the port with large rocks to ensure nothing enters or exits the facility.

“We are at an impasse, a very huge one,” Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow said, reporting from Port Sudan.

“The Beja protesters say that they will stay put, that they will not move until the government listens to their grievances, and on top of these they say that they were not consulted when the Juba agreement was signed,” Adow said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies