Why the end of US sanctions hasn’t helped Sudan

Many people in Sudan are feeling the financial pinch

Many people in Sudan are feeling the financial pinch

Sudanese hopes that the lifting of US sanctions will improve their economy have failed to materialise, writes the BBC’s James Copnall from the capital Khartoum.

When the US decided to remove economic sanctions on Sudan last October, President Omar al-Bashir’s government was ecstatic.

Not only did this signal a new era in the often tempestuous relationship with Washington, it allowed the politicians – and the Sudanese people – to hope that an end to a severe economic crisis was in sight.

But instead of regaining its footing, the economy has fallen off a cliff, with inflation soaring and people struggling to get by.

Nahla Mohaka, a film-maker and writer, is part of Khartoum’s middle class – and, like almost everyone, is feeling the financial pinch.

She serves a delicious lunch of fuul – a bean stew with onions – and taamiya – the Sudanese version of falafel.

“Normally there would be a meat dish, but meat had become very expensive. And even the fuul – before this would have been about 10 Sudanese pounds ($0.56; £0.42), now it is 50 or more,” Ms Mohaka says.

A few years ago, there were fewer than four Sudanese pounds to the dollar – now it is 29 by the official rate, and over 40 on the black market.

Inflation is over 55 per cent, the highest rate for around two decades.

Salaries, though, have not raised much – leading to widespread anger and frustration.

Ms Mohaka’s family has cut down on fruit and meat of course. Many poorer families are forced to cut out entire meals to make do.

And Ms Mohaka points out, it is often women who bear the brunt of this.

“They are the ones working, they are ones who look after the family, they are the ones cooking, so this is a very hard situation for them especially,” she says.

The sanctions stopped any transactions using US currency or products. In practice this meant any business which operated in the US was not able to trade with Sudan.

For years, international banks would not operate in Sudan, and the state and companies were largely unable to get spare parts for things like aeroplanes or vital health equipment. -BBC

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