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October 21 2021 9:56 PM ˚

Sudanese divert shipments from port blocked by protests

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Sudanese buy bread from a bakery in the capital Khartoum on October 11, 2021, as the country is suffering from shortages of wheat and other essential commodities due to the closure of Port Sudan amid ongoing protests. (Photo: AFP)
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KHARTOUM, Sudan  — Sudanese traders have begun diverting shipments to neighboring countries after anti-government protests forced the closure of the country’s main port on the Red Sea coast, officials said Wednesday.اضافة اعلان

Port Sudan has been blocked since September 17 by eastern tribes who took to the streets to voice anger after being left out of an October 2020 peace deal signed by the government and rebels.

The tribes are demanding that the government nullifies a section of the deal relating to east Sudan, saying it does not represent them.

On Wednesday, Trade Minister Ali Geddo told AFP that shipments meant to arrive through Port Sudan have been redirected onto other maritime routes.
“Traders have been complaining of having imports stranded at sea and have asked to use ports in other countries, especially Egypt’s,” Geddo said.

“We told them it’s their right because transit trade is allowed under international maritime regulations.”

Shehab Al-Tayeb, head of Sudan’s Importers Chamber, said traders have been using Egypt’s Ain Al-Sokhna port on the Red Sea since the beginning of October.

The amount of goods passing to Sudan from Ain Al-Sokhna increased by 150 percent in the past month, according to the trade minister.
The blockade has cut off essential supplies across Sudan, including wheat and fuel.

Bakeries in Khartoum and other states have shuttered their businesses temporarily as a result of the shortages.

The crisis in east Sudan comes as the country navigates a rocky transition since the April 2019 ouster of autocrat Omar Al-Bashir following mass protests against his rule, mainly triggered by economic hardship.

Sudan’s transitional government installed in August 2019 has been reeling from political divisions and economic crises that deepened following the toppling of Bashir.

On Friday, Britain, Norway and the United States called on the protesters to end their blockade of Port Sudan.

The demonstrators have so far remained adamant on keeping Port Sudan closed until their demands are met.

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