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South Sudan - a failed state ?

D 16 avril 2016     H 12:02     A     C 0 messages

South Sudan is on the verge of famine and there is $6bn missing. More than four million people, a third of its population, face serious food shortages and tens of thousands are on the cusp of catastrophic famine. South Sudan is in economic crisis – and is approaching the status of a failed state. South Sudan has run out of money, having squandered the billions of its own oil wealth and that of international donors that were intended to help give the young, and supposedly oil-rich, state a chance, but not everyone is suffering.

In Juba smart black SUVs can be seen parked outside the handful of smart hotels and restaurants, or driving along the pot-holed roads that lead to grand residences, government ministries and military compounds. The Cadillacs. Mercedes GLs and luxury Hummers would not look out of place in a Belgravia or Knightsbridge square. In neighbouring Kenya and Uganda, property records show some of the best houses in the smartest suburbs are registered under the names of high-profile South Sudanese politicians and bureaucrats. Many such homes are worth more than $1m. In Washington DC the names of South Sudanese individuals or holding companies are publicly listed against homes worth more than $3m. In Colorado, where the world’s rich ski, and in Melbourne, Australia, rated one of the world’s most “liveable” cities, it is no secret that a small number of elite South Sudan business and political leaders have properties. Details of this hidden wealth appropriated by South Sudan’s elite have been collated by United Nations investigators.

The UN’s special representative in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, said last year that the government was struggling to pay for even the most basic necessities ; under its own rules the IMF is not allowed to intervene while the civil war continues. Sources within the Paris Club group of creditor nations that provide debt relief to developing countries, estimate that some $4bn is missing, unaccounted for. One of them told The Independent : “There may simply be no books to examine.” Other agencies that have tried to calculate the scale of embezzlement in what is now South Sudan say it could amount to as much as $10bn over the past 11 years.

President Salva Kiir appointed and paid 745 generals who each had their own network of loyalists to finance. By 2013, when the civil war erupted, the military payroll had climbed to 240,000, six times its size a few years earlier. Supposed defence spending may now consume close to half the national budget. Meanwhile senior commanders commonly steal the salaries of low-ranking personnel, while others pocket the pay of “ghost soldiers” who exist only on paper, investigators say.

Over the past two years, the US has spent more than $2bn ; China has offered extended lines of credit ; and last year Qatar offered $500m to help South Sudan’s struggling banking system. Britain has contributed £242m for humanitarian aid and a further £93m to help refugees and displaced people over the past two years, with a further £200m in aid earmarked for this year. The World Bank approved a $38m loan to build rural roads and highways, but almost none of that promised work has even been started, and a country almost the size of France still has barely 60 miles of metalled roads.

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