Writtle University College and ARU have merged. Writtle’s full range of college, degree, postgraduate and short courses will still be delivered on the Writtle campus. See our guide to finding Writtle information on this site.

Hundreds die in fuel price hike protests


Confirmation of fuel subsidy cuts by the Sudanese government on 23 September 2013 sparked civilian outrage.

This decision was the result of crude oil revenue loss, owing to South Sudan's secession from Sudan, and US economic sanctions due to war crimes overseen by Sudan's President al-Bashir in Darfur.

The backdrop

After decades of unrest and war, South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011 taking with them over 75% of Sudan’s crude oil fields. Despite the secession, disputes over oil production and shipping continued between the two governments, with accusations of oil looting and threats of fuel shutdown. Fuel insecurity in Sudan resulted in the economy becoming unstable, as fuel exports comprised a significant proportion of the country’s revenue.

Social unrest on the border of the Sudan and South Sudan was further intensified by the civil rebellion against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s 24-year rule. Hundreds of thousands in Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states1 were displaced, and faced severe food and water shortages as the Sudanese government dropped scatter bombs on the civilian population.

The escalation pathway

Along with announcing fuel subsidy cuts, the Sudanese cabinet raised the US dollar exchange rate for imports with talk of lifting subsidies on wheat. Inflation rates stood at double-digit figures and the Sudanese pound was in a state of free-fall. In 2012, tax hikes as well as fuel and sugar subsidy scale-backs were introduced as part of an austerity package. Having lived in fear and instability for decades, the inability to access to fuel triggered outbursts of dissatisfaction by the people.

The demonstrations started in Sudan’s central state of Gezira in September 2013, quickly spreading to Khartoum, Omdurman, Darfur and Eastern Sudan. Protestors were labelled as 'outlaws' by Sudan’s information minister and government spokesperson. The Sudanese authorities responded with tear gas and firing live bullets, as the fuel price hike demonstrations turned into anti-government protests2. Many protestors died with gunshot wounds to the head and chest.

Early intervention


  • Prioritise resolving unrest and rebellion without violence.
  • More transparent and democratic system – democracy as opposed to potential dictatorship.
  • Government to show empathy as subsidy cuts are announced.
  • Diversify national revenue away from oil.
  • Prioritise easing people’s suffering/improve their quality of life.

During event

  • Allow peaceful demonstrations against fuel price hike.
  • Refrain from using violence against protestors/treat protestors with respect.
  • Respect all human rights laws.
  • Request that demonstrations remain peaceful.
  • Acknowledging people’s grievances.
  • Avoid the use of tear gas, riot batons and violence when dispersing potentially aggressive protests/riots.
  • Focus security on preventing crime/violence.


  • Government to provide a public apology for excessive use of violence.
  • Allow for democratic re-election or shift in bureaucracy.

Key themes

Food shortages, fuel shortages, government, inflation, poverty, subsidies, unrest, water shortages.


  1. Daily News Egypt, 2013. UN rights monitor condemns deadly Sudan crackdown. Daily News Egypt, 4 October 2013.
  2. Africa Research Bulletin, 2013. Oil Production Up. Africa Research Bulletin, 20092, 5 October 2013.
  3. Africa Research Bulletin, 2013. Oil Production Restarts. Africa Research Bulletin, 19906, 6 May 2013.
  4. TCA Regional News, 2015. Sudanese presidency calls for monitoring gasoline distribution to prevent a looming fuel crisis. TCA Regional News, Chicago, 10 June 2015.
  5. Green, A., 26 January 2013. Humanitarian crisis worsens as fighting escalates in Sudan. World Report, vol.381.
  6. Africa News Service, 2013. Deadliest Day in Sudan’s Fuel Subsidies Protests, Nationwide Internet Access Cut Off. Africa News Service, 27 September 2013.
  7. Daily News Egypt, 2013. Sudan Braces for New Protests as Death Toll Rises. Daily News Egypt, 27 September 2013.
  8. UN Human Rights Office Urges Restraint As Death Toll In Sudan Fuel Protests Rises, 27 September 2013. M2 Presswire, Coventry
  9. The Frontier Star, 2013. Rights Groups Say 50 Dead in Sudan Fuel Riots. The Frontier Star, Karachi, September 2013.
  10. Puri, I., 2014. Fuel for Change? Oil Subsidy Riots on Sudanese Government. Harvard International Review, 35(3), 10.
  11. Africa Research Bulletin, 2013. Fuel Prices to Rise. Africa Research Bulletin, 20093, October 2013.
  12. Wikipedia, 2019. Omar al-Bashir [online] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omar_al-Bashir (accessed 29 August 2019).


Hundreds die in fuel price hike protests - PDF

1South Kordofan and Blue Nile are states most affected by the rebels as the two states are located at the border of North and South Sudan.

2Protestors' chants included 'The people want the fall of the regime! Freedom, freedom!'