Bread Shortage Hits Sudan As Currency Crunch Escalates

Bread shortages have hit Sudan, with wheat traders blaming a foreign currency crisis for shortages of the staple that have left people queuing for hours outside bakeries.

Sudan’s economy has been struggling since the south seceded in 2011, taking with it three-quarters of its oil output and depriving it of a crucial source of foreign currency.

The crisis has deepened over the past year as a black market for U.S. dollars has effectively replaced the formal banking system after the Sudanese pound was devalued, making it more difficult to import essential supplies such as wheat.

A doubling of the price of bread in January triggered demonstrations after the government eliminated subsidies, although so far there was no sign of protests this time.

At Banet neighbourhood in the town of Omdurman, in Khartoum, dozens of people stood in a long line outside the Modern Bakery.

“This is unbearable,” said 53-year-old Abdullah Mahmoud, a day labourer, who said he had been queuing for two hours for bread. “I had been here since the morning and I still don’t have any bread.”

Fatima Yassin, 36, in a queue for women, said: “Everything is expensive and bread is not available. We have a difficult life and the government doesn’t care about us.”

Similar queues were seen in other cities near the capital.

Sudan imported 2 million tonnes of wheat in 2017, the government said in December, compared with 445,000 tonnes produced locally.

One Khartoum bakery owner, Ahmed Saleh, said he had had no flour since Monday.

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