As Prices Soar, South Sudan Backs Discount Food Stores in Juba

South Sudan’s government opened about 30 shops in the capital selling staple foods at discount prices as the war-torn country that’s also battling a famine grapples with inflation in excess of 400 percent.

The government hired contractors to import goods including flour, sugar, beans and cooking oil from neighboring countries and is selling them at fixed prices in Juba, according to Minister of Trade & Industry Moses Hassan Tiel. Thirty-three trucks of the commodities arrived from Uganda this week, George Luate Alfred, managing director of Ramciel Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society, a government-contracted supplier, said in an interview Friday.

A civil war that began in South Sudan in December 2013 has left tens of thousands of people dead, forced more than 3.5 million to flee their homes and caused economic collapse. The government last month said it would receive a $50 million grant from the World Bank to help it import food and respond to shortages in places including Juba.

Famine was declared in two northern counties in February where an estimated 100,000 people are starving and international aid groups are attempting to provide help. The economic crisis has hit residents of Juba, too; in December, the United Nations estimated nine out of 10 families in the city were cutting back on meals as inflation in the import-dependent country rocketed.

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