Written by: INcontext International
Article source: www.incontextinternational.org

Sudan received approval for over $56 billion in debt relief and $2.5 billion in funding from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

The $2.5 billion will be dispersed over three years. The IMF accepted Sudan into the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative after the power-sharing government’s efforts to implement economic reforms, including removing government subsidies on fuel.

The removal of fuel subsidies has caused widespread protests; however, the move was necessary for Sudan to qualify for the IMF programme. Sudan also had to be removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism to qualify for the aid, which it achieved last year, after offering compensation to victims of terror attacks.

According to IMF mission head Susan Baker, Sudan’s national debt will be cut from over $50 billion to around $30 billion with its initial acceptance into the programme, and after three years it will be cut further to around $6 billion. The $2.5 billion in extra funding will be allocated to fighting poverty and implementing COVID economic relief programmes.

Around $1.4 billion of the aid will be delivered immediately, and the rest will be dispersed over the next 39 months if Sudan continues to implement required reforms. Sudan has fallen into a harsh economic recession, stemming from debt that went into arrears following the ousting of former president Omar al-Bashir in 2019, and decades of sanctions.

Inflation has been severe, nearing 400%, and there have been food and fuel shortages. To maintain its HIPC qualification, Sudan must continue to demonstrate its ability to advance economic stability and implement government reforms, by using the funding to combat poverty and improve social conditions. It must also stay in good standing with the remainder of its national debts.

From a Christian perspective, despite Sudan’s current economic uncertainties and the remaining threat of persecution in many areas, the Christian population (about 5% according to the Joshua Project) has experienced some victories in the past year.

Since al-Bashir’s removal from power, there has been improvement in religious freedom in the country. Muslim-background believers no longer face the death penalty, and the level of persecution has decreased overall. Sudan has moved down six spots on the World Watch List for persecution, published by Open Doors, because of these improvements.

According to an INcontext contact in the area, Sudan’s acceptance back into the international community has the potential to create new opportunities for the international Church and missionary community to reach out to the 24.7 million ‘unreached’ people in Sudan.

The economic reforms are also expected to cause some hardship, as the IMF’s strict regulations will force a major overhaul of the country’s economic practices, and believers are not immune to the physical and economic challenges faced by the rest of the population.

The global body of Christ can celebrate and thank the Lord for the breakthroughs within Sudan over the past two years, while making use of the new opportunities to support the local Church. May this support, through resources and prayer, lead to a greater spread of hope, peace, and ultimately, the Gospel, throughout this time of transition.

Please pray with us for the following:

  • For the Sudanese government to use the funding wisely to provide more stable conditions
  • For the global Church to continue to pray for Sudan, thanking the Lord for the breakthroughs that have come, and for those that are yet to come
  • For the local Church to make the most of the new-found opportunities to reach those who are unfamiliar with the Gospel

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Date published: 18/07/2021
Feature image: Image for illustrative purposes only. unsplash.com

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