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CPJ alarmed by extended communications blackout in Sudan

The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by reports of an ongoing communications blackout across most of Sudan since Friday and urgently calls for an immediate restoration of telecoms and internet networks across the country, where a nearly 10-month conflict has displaced millions.

Since February 2, mobile and internet services provided by local company Sudani, South African MTN, and Zain Sudan, which is part of the Kuwaiti Zain Group, have been interrupted in the capital, Khartoum, and across most of Sudan. MTN and Zain Sudan said the outages were due to circumstances beyond their control and they hoped services would be restored as soon as possible.

“CPJ is gravely concerned that the latest, widespread communications blackout in Sudan will severely impede journalists’ ability to cover the war, potentially allowing attacks and atrocities to go unreported,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour, in Washington, D.C. “We call on the parties to the conflict to immediately restore mobile and internet services in Sudan and cease undermining the freedom of the press.”

Sudan’s latest civil war was sparked by a dispute between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in April. Both sides have been accused of war crimes in a conflict that has caused what the United Nations describes as the world’s largest internal displacement crisis and reports of starvation deaths.

Digital rights groups Digital Rights Lab – Sudan and Access Now said the RSF was responsible for the blackout, while RSF has blamed the army. CPJ was unable to determine the source of the shutdown.

Since April, CPJ has documented multiple incidents of journalists being killed, shot, beaten, harassed, and arrested in Sudan.

CPJ’s emails to the Sudanese Armed Forces and the RSF did not receive any replies.

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