As the New Year began, the world saw many changes. Perhaps one of the most important changes to take place was the recent price hike on basic commodities in Sudan. Sudan has seen the price of things as basic as bread increase dramatically, sometimes close to three hundred percent. Where does that put the citizens of Darfur? It puts them in an uncompromising situation. With the price hikes, many people will be unable to afford the basic means to survive.
Over the past few years, the economic situation in Sudan has been. Yet, recent analysis shows that the real inflation rate of the Sudanese pound has reached 50%. In part, this incredulous rate is due to the government’s decision to increase the price of the US dollar, from a 6.6 SDG to 18 SDG. In addition, the government has reallocated the money once promised for services and welfare programs, which were designed to benefit the Sudanese people, to the military and domestic security. This policy hurts the Sudanese people. The increase in military spending will be spent on slaughtering Darfuris. The attacks seen in the last few years, including the chemical weapons, will increase in frequency and magnitude. Meanwhile, the rest of Sudan will suffer at the hands of a government who cares more about massacring their own people than fostering peace and development. Of course, the systematic tactic of this policy is not limited to just the increase in the capacity to outright murder innocents. The increase in the prices of basic commodities, as well as the increase in the price of medication and health care, unequivocally hurts the poor. Especially those who are living in camps for internally displaced persons, those who have been targeted and denied every semblance of a normal life, including education. This policy will serve to hurt Darfur in multiple ways. First, and most obliviously, an increase in attacks, both frequenc, and severity. Secondly, this policy systematically targets basic necessities and makes them unavailable to Darfuris. This type of economic alienation is an unusual and cruel tactic and demands the condemnation of the international community.
It is understandable that the Sudanese people are not in support of this new policy. Because of their disdain, resent and a desire for change; citizens throughout Sudan have organized days of protest. Unfortunately, it was only just three days after that tragedy struck. As protests were underway in El Geneina, protestors began to become violent, burning tires and ultimately setting the headquarters of the ruling National Congress Party on fire. The fire prompted governmental forces to open fire on the crowd of protestors in which a Darfuri student named El Zubeir Ibrahim Sikiran was killed. While there was only one casualty, eight protestors were wounded and dozens were detained. Following the slaying of Sikiran, the West Darfur authorities called for an investigation of the murder and closed schools for week.
As the protests continued, Abdelwahab Mohamed, Head of the National Equality and Justice Party in West Darfur made a request that the Sudanese stop the rising of prices on basic commodities. Mohamed then asked that the Economic Security Service take much needed control over the troubled market and its rising prices in order obtain peace and fairness.
We urge and challenge the international community to continue to keep eyes on the drastic changes continuing to take place in Darfur and Sudan at large. The people of Sudan are now not only dealing with violence but now they are dealing with an economic situation that puts them in a position where they cannot afford the basic means to survive. It is imperative that the international community steps up and addresses the many problems and conflicts are facing and make strides to bring peace to the people of Sudan.