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Women and children wait for food distribution from the United Nations World Food Programme in Thonyor, Leer state, South Sudan, back in 2017.

REUTERS/Siegfried Modola/File Photo

South Sudan customs dispute taxes a long-suffering population

Even as three-quarters of South Sudan’s people face starvation, a squabble between the government and the UN over import taxes is leaving vital aid trucks stuck at the border.

The background: South Sudan’s trade ministry ordered this week that all goods trucks entering the East African country must pay a $300 tax. The measure was meant to ensure that the government got its share of revenue from imports that are often underbilled or misrepresented. There was supposed to be a carveout for UN aid vehicles, but if so, officials at the Ugandan border didn’t get the memo – at least not yet.

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File Photo: South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit attends the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) 42nd Extraordinary Session, at the State House in Entebbe, Uganda January 18, 2024.

REUTERS/Abubaker Lubowa

As oil stops flowing, South Sudan risks crisis

South Sudan’s main oil export pipeline has been caught in the crossfire of the brutal civil war ripping across its northern neighbor, threatening the country’s economy and power structure. The fighting means engineers can’t access the pipeline to repair damage, so South Sudan declared “force majeure” earlier this month, essentially absolving it of certain contractual obligations.

South Sudan is the least developed country in the world after Somalia, according to the UN’s Human Development Index, and some 90% of the country’s revenue comes from oil exports. Between two thirds and three quarters of its exports pass through Sudan, from which South Sudan broke away in 2011.

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A volcanic eruption takes place, near Grindavik, Iceland, March 16, 2024, in this handout picture obtained by Reuters.

Public Security Department of Icelandic Police/Handout via REUTERS

Hard Numbers: Icelandic volcano erupts, India sets election date, EU aids Egyptian economy, South Sudan schools close amid extreme heat

40: Just 40 minutes after authorities received indications of an eruption late Saturday, lava shot from a huge fissure on the Reykjanes Peninsula near Grindavik and the famed Blue Lagoon. The fourth — and probably biggest — eruption to have hit here since December nearly took services by surprise. The town and resort were both evacuated shortly after the eruption.

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What We're Watching: UAE-Saudi rivalry, South Sudan turns ten, Malaysian PM under pressure

Gulf grows between UAE and Saudi Arabia: Global oil prices surged this week to a six-year high after talks between the world's biggest oil-producing countries broke down. So what happened exactly? Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, usually close allies, are at loggerheads over how to boost OPEC oil production in the wake of the pandemic-induced economic crisis: the Saudis, along with the Russians, have proposed extending curbs on oil output levels for another eight months — a proposal vehemently rejected by the Emiratis. Abu Dhabi, for its part, has invested a lot to boost its output capacity, and now that global demand is up again it wants to renegotiate its production quotas within the OPEC framework. Riyadh, on the other hand, wants to cut supply levels so that prices remain high. It's a rare public spat between the two countries, whose leaders — Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed — enjoy a close personal bond, though a rivalry has been deepening in recent years as both try to establish their kingdoms as the top economic hub — and regional power — in the Gulf region.

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What gives the UN’s top refugee advocate hope?
What Gives the UN’s Top Refugee Advocate Hope? | UNHCR's Filippo Grandi | GZERO World

What gives the UN’s top refugee advocate hope?

"I think that there are still positive forces, there are still leaders in the world who think in the right way, but…it's very 50/50." The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has plenty to keep him up at night but when it comes to the fate of refugees in a post-pandemic world, it's not all doom and gloom. The refugee situation in Sudan and South Sudan, he tells Ian Bremmer, is one cause for hope. Their conversation was part of a new episode of GZERO World.

Watch the episode: UNHCR chief: How the pandemic has upended the lives of refugees

What’s happening in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries?

The coronavirus pandemic has monopolized much of the world's attention for months now, but the conflicts and crises plaguing some of the most vulnerable countries have not stopped. In some cases they have only gotten worse. Here's a look at what's been happening in some of the world's most intractable hotspots in the months since the COVID-19 crisis took center stage.

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