UN Official Demands Restoration of Internet Access in Sudan Amid Humanitarian Concerns

Recent calls from a top United Nations official highlight the urgent need for Sudan to reinstate internet connectivity in the face of a significant humanitarian crisis. Martin Griffiths, the UN Relief Coordinator, voiced concerns over the internet blockade’s severe implications on communication and essential services in Sudan, emphasizing that the shutdown is intolerable.

The extensive internet blackout, affecting major telecom providers including MTN, Zain Sudan, and Sudatel Telecom Group, has left over 14 million individuals without internet access across the country. As a result, everyday activities and the delivery of critical humanitarian support have been significantly hindered.

In the midst of this digital void, the UN’s humanitarian wing, OCHA, anticipates that nearly 25 million Sudanese will require aid in 2024, presenting a crucial period for digital connectivity to support humanitarian efforts.

Interestingly, the conflict between the Sudanese Army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has seen the RSF resorting to the use of Starlink satellite internet services since August 2023. While Starlink’s reach has expanded to numerous African nations, certain countries like Zimbabwe, Ghana, and Botswana have imposed sanctions on the service.

As traditional internet services have been cut off, Starlink’s usage has reportedly surged within Sudan, with logistical assistance through RSF-dominated routes. Civilians in some regions now face hefty fees to access internet services via Starlink, pointing to a dire need for digital inclusion and equitable access.

The RSF’s decision to enforce a nationwide internet blackout was reportedly retaliatory, following connectivity losses in their stronghold of western Darfur. Despite challenges including safety, fuel, and electricity scarcities, telecom workers are striving to restore service—a task complicated by the RSF’s stark ultimatum.

This analysis underscores the profound impact of internet connectivity on humanitarian aid and the escalating tensions within Sudan’s telecommunications landscape.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the situation with internet connectivity in Sudan?
Sudan is experiencing an extensive internet blackout that is affecting major telecommunications providers like MTN, Zain Sudan, and Sudatel Telecom Group, which has left over 14 million individuals without internet access across the country.

Who has voiced concern about the internet shutdown in Sudan?
Martin Griffiths, the UN Relief Coordinator, has highlighted the urgent need for Sudan to reinstate internet connectivity, noting that the shutdown has severe implications on communication and essential services.

What are the humanitarian concerns related to the internet shutdown?
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that nearly 25 million Sudanese will require aid in 2024, making digital connectivity vital for supporting humanitarian efforts.

How are the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) involved in the current internet issues?
The RSF has reportedly used Starlink satellite internet services since August 2023 and also dominates logistical assistance for this service in Sudan. Additionally, they are said to have enforced the nationwide internet blackout in retaliation to connectivity losses in their territory.

What impact is the internet blackout having on civilian access to the internet?
Civilians in some regions now face hefty fees to access internet services via Starlink, which raises concerns about digital inclusion and equitable access.

Are there attempts to restore internet service in Sudan?
Telecom workers are attempting to restore service amidst challenges like safety, fuel, and electricity scarcities. However, their efforts are complicated by the RSF’s enforcement of the internet blackout.

Definition of Key Terms and Jargon:
United Nations (UN): An international organization founded in 1945 aimed at promoting peace and cooperation among nations.
UN Relief Coordinator: An official responsible for overseeing and coordinating relief efforts in humanitarian crises.
OCHA: The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. It is responsible for bringing together humanitarian actors to ensure coherent responses to emergencies.
Rapid Support Forces (RSF): A paramilitary force in Sudan that has played a significant role in the country’s security and political dynamics.
Starlink: A satellite internet service provided by SpaceX, offering broadband connectivity to various regions, including areas affected by the internet blackout in Sudan.
Digital Inclusion: Efforts to ensure all individuals and communities, including the most disadvantaged, have access to and the skills needed for using information and communication technologies.

Related Links:
United Nations
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Starlink

Please note that the links above are to the main domain of their respective organizations and services.