Sudan finds itself ensnared in an internet blackout, exacerbating the challenges of a nation already grappling with a 10-month-long civil war. The blackout has stirred accusations directed at the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group entangled in the conflict, although the RSF vehemently denies any involvement.
NetBlocks, a watchdog dedicated to monitoring internet freedom, highlighted a significant disruption in Sudan’s online connectivity, marking a troubling development. Reports emerged on X regarding the sudden collapse of internet services across the country, intensifying concerns over communication access.
The blackout coincides with actions attributed to a Sudanese hacktivist group, targeting Uganda for its association with RSF leader, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. Although NetBlocks identified disruptions in internet services of providers Uganda Telecom and MTN, observations from the capital, Kampala, suggest limited impact.
In Sudan, the situation deteriorated rapidly since Friday, with numerous individuals reporting complete inability to access the internet. While state-aligned media point fingers at the RSF, conflicting narratives emerge. According to the Sudan Tribune, an RSF official accuses the army of orchestrating communication severance in several states, predominantly under the paramilitary group’s control.
NetBlocks further noted the extensive blackout affecting Zain, one of Sudan’s major mobile operators, exacerbating the communication crisis. Despite facing harsh circumstances, Zain emphasized the outage as beyond its control, underscoring the challenging environment in which it operates.
The outage extends beyond Zain, with MTN Sudan and state-owned Sudani experiencing complete service disruption on Friday, according to NetBlocks’ findings. This blackout compounds the already dire situation faced by Sudanese citizens amidst ongoing conflict.
The United Nations, responding to the escalating crisis, has launched an appeal for $4.1 billion to address urgent humanitarian needs in Sudan. With an estimated nine million displaced individuals and half the population requiring assistance, the situation demands immediate attention.
Martin Griffiths, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, emphasized the gravity of the situation, stressing the need for urgent intervention. “Ten months of conflict have robbed the people of Sudan of nearly everything – their safety, their homes, and their livelihoods.”