On February 4, 2024, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) raided the main switches of the three communications companies operating in the Sudan (Zain, MTN Sudan, and Sudatel) in Khartoum and directed, at gunpoint, the engineers working at these headquarters to cut off all communications and Internet services throughout the Sudan. RSF soldiers were accompanied by a number of communications technicians to ensure that these instructions were implemented. The reasons given by the RSF for this action were that the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) issued previous instructions to cut off communications and the Internet from Darfur. This was publicly denied by the sources in the telecommunications sector and Zain Company, who justified the interruption of services in Darfur region by technical faults and fiber cuts that could not be repaired due to the security situation in the region and reported that RSF had been informed of this.
Since February 4, 2024, all telephone, Internet, and associated services have been completely cut off across the entirety of Sudan. The situation is further exacerbated by the prohibition on satellite Internet services within Sudan, enforced by the Sudanese Telecommunications and Postal Regulatory Authority.
The complete shutdown of communications from Sudan currently increases the risks resulting from the ongoing war and poses a further threat of committing more crimes and violations against more than 40 million Sudanese besieged in the country; more than a quarter of them are forcibly displaced from their homes due to the inferno of war, amid a complete blackout on access to any information related to their conditions and their safety. The complete loss of communications also hindered all efforts to coordinate the delivery of humanitarian aid, which is urgently and vitally needed by more than 25 million Sudanese, according to United Nations statistics. The impact extends to the stopping of electronic banking services, which is the only economic exchange outlet that remains after the complete disruption of banking services since the outbreak of war on April 15, 2023. These electronic banking services constitute the only remaining lifeline for the Sudanese, for the response efforts of the domestic humanitarian emergency rooms, and for all humanitarian organizations working in the field of relief in all parts of Sudan.
We find it shameful and disgraceful that the world and all governments of the relevant international and regional actors continue to be silent about this dire situation in Sudan. We call on the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, all United Nations agencies, and the governments of the United Arab Emirates, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United States of America, the State of Kuwait, and the Republic of South Africa, in addition to the African Union and IGAD, to use their relations and mechanisms of influence on the warring parties to the maximum extent possible to demand that the two sides abandon the use of the telecom sector in the scope of their warfare due to its extreme importance to the continued livelihood and safety of civilians. We also call on all these countries and the various political and legal frameworks of the international community to clearly announce their willingness to impose sanctions on the parties responsible for cutting off communications services for the Sudanese.
The situation in Sudan requires serious and urgent action to ensure the continuation of the last available means to sustain the lives of Sudanese who face the hazards of war, famine, displacement, and the systematic violations that continue to be committed against them.