Tired of economic crisis, Sudanese pack up to try their luck abroad

Wed May 15, 2013 10:14am EDT
 
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By Ulf Laessing

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - In a cramped government office in Khartoum, engineer Ahmed Taha and dozens of other Sudanese, lured by local newspaper adverts for jobs in the Gulf, sit waiting to get a permit to leave the country and work abroad.

"I've had enough of Sudan and will go to Saudi Arabia," said Taha. "I am so tired of this country, the (economic) crisis, the corruption."

Taha, who has been working in an office accounts department for two years because he could not find a professional post, has just been hired as an engineer by a construction firm in Saudi Arabia - a move that will increase his salary sevenfold to 2,500 Saudi riyals ($670) a month.

"I also want to find my wife a job as a teacher in Saudi Arabia because she makes only 600 (Sudanese) pounds ($95) a month here. We cannot live on our salaries."

Like thousands of other Sudanese, Taha is escaping a country gripped by economic crisis since losing 75 percent of its oil production, its lifeline, when South Sudan seceded in July 2011.

Analysts estimate unemployment is running at between 20 and 30 percent, although there is no official data.

Annual inflation topped 41 percent in April and the Sudanese pound has more than halved in value against the dollar since South Sudan's independence, making life unbearable for many.

Nearly 95,000 Sudanese, from laborers to teachers, nurses and engineers, left the country last year compared to only 10,032 in 2008, according to official data. Some analysts say the number is even higher because travel movements are hard to monitor.   Continued...

 
Sudanese migrants wait to get their visas at The Secretariat for Sudanese Working Abroad in Khartoum, May 13, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah