Dominic Raab, the UK's foreign secretary, was in Sudan in January he offered £40m in aid to help its poorest people, who are facing unprecedented food scarcity in a debt-laden country where austerity is deepening.
Sudan, ruled by an unelected military-led transitional government after longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir was deposed in 2019, owes the UK £861m. Almost 80% of that was accrued from interest - four-fifths of Sudan's £861m debt to UK is interest. Tim Jones, head of policy at the Jubilee Debt Campaign, said that the debt western governments claimed from Sudan was “mostly made up”, as it was based on the addition of up to 12% interest every year for decades.
Sudan is under pressure from lenders to impose austerity measures, including reduced public spending and slashed subsidies. Sudan’s previous regime took up the suggestion of the International Monetary Fund to phase out wheat and fuel subsidies to balance its books, and there were protests over price rises and deteriorating living conditions. Last month Sudan devalued its currency, triggering price increases. Sudan’s government fears hyperinflation amid record inflation.
“We were already struggling to survive, but now life has become impossible.”
Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said the UK was among those which had been “a force for more harm than good.”
“It’s really unconscionable that Britain continues to hold these loans as some form of leverage over Sudan’s government today,” he said. “Even worse, Dominic Raab is now offering support to Sudan conditional on the government’s unpopular austerity programme – which threatens to exacerbate poverty and undermine the country’s fragile path to democracy.”