South Sudan resumes issuance of passports after month-long break

South Sudan has resumed issuance of passports after a month-long break that was prompted by a shutdown of the system by its German technology provider over failures to pay its bills, a senior immigration official said on Thursday.

South Sudan’s economy has been gravely affected by the four-year civil war that has rocked the nation, crippling some government services.

“We have resumed our operation and whoever that is in need and wants to apply for national certificates and passports, we are ready to serve them,” Lieutenant General Majak Akech Malok, director general of Nationality, Passport and Immigration, said.

The national passports and immigration office in November said it had halted the issuance of passports due to technical challenges.

Then-Deputy Finance Minister Mou Ambrose Thiik told Reuters that the passport and national identification server had been blocked by its host, German company Muhlbauer, after the government failed to pay an annual software licence fee of around $500,000.

Akech made no mention of the government owing Muhlbauer any money and just said the stoppage was due to a “technical error”.

The war-torn country’s main source of income is oil, but the fighting has cut production to less than a third of initial levels.

Public funds are scarce, and civil servants and soldiers have been reported to go for months without pay.

Hyperinflation has also rendered the country’s currency almost worthless.

Thiik was relieved of his job by President Salva Kiir in early December.