Sudan NGOs demand end to telecom blackouts

Sudanese and international aid groups are calling for an end to “collective punishment” by warring factions in Sudan. 

For over a year, fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and rival groups has devastated the country, with tens of thousands killed, nearly nine million displaced, and critical infrastructure destroyed.

A joint statement by 94 NGOs, including Access Now and the Norwegian Refugee Council, condemns the disruption of telecommunications as a weapon of war. 

Indiscriminate attacks and bureaucratic restrictions by both sides have left millions without access to vital support networks.

“This lack of communication severely affects civilians’ ability to cope with the war’s effects,” the statement reads, “as well as aid workers’ capacity to deliver essential services.”

The UN has labeled the situation “one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent memory.”

With most of Sudan’s 48 million people in need of aid, grassroots volunteers play a crucial role. 

However, their efforts are hampered by the limited and expensive satellite internet available. Many rely on smuggled equipment for SpaceX’s Starlink network.

This fragile internet connection is often the only lifeline for civilians. 

Without salaries due to the war, many depend on cash transfers from relatives abroad. 

Additionally, vast regions, particularly Darfur, have been entirely cut off for over a year. 

A nationwide shutdown in February left nearly 30 million Sudanese in a communications blackout for over a month.

The NGOs urge both sides to “ensure the uninterrupted provision of telecommunication services” and facilitate repairs.

However, a lack of resources and ongoing fighting make it difficult to restore infrastructure in many war-torn areas.

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