Sudan Government Accuses RSF of Cutting Communications Networks

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien is a published journalist and historicist with over six years of experience in freelance journalism and research. His primary expertise is in African conflict and politics, with additional specialization in Israeli/Palestinian and Armenia/Azerbaijan conflicts. Sébastien serves as the deputy desk chief for Africa.

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What’s Happening

The Sudanese Military Government has blamed the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) for a now days long telecommunications disruption of several of Sudan’s largest telecom companies. South African-owned MTN Sudan and state-owned Sudani have been at zero or close to zero connectivity throughout Sudan since February 2nd, and Kuwaiti-owned Zain Sudan service in the River Nile State and Port Sudan city has been disrupted. The Sudanese military is in control of the River Nile State and Port Sudan.

Both Sudanese state-owned Sudan News Agency (Suna) as well as several sources within Sudan’s telecoms industry have blamed the RSF for the disruptions. The telecoms sources have stated that the RSF disrupted the networks, however that the damage was not permanent.

Publicly, MTN Sudan stated that the disruptions were a part of the ongoing conflict, adding “MTN Sudan is actively engaging with relevant stakeholders to minimise the duration of this interruption”.

Zain stated that its employees “are working under very difficult, harsh, and dangerous circumstances, and [Zain] would like to note that the current network outage is due to circumstances outside of its control”.

The disruptions across Sudan come at the same time that the RSF has accused the government of similarly disrupting networks within Darfur, which is controlled by the RSF. Sources within the RSF have denied responsibility for the outages in the rest of Sudan, but neglected to say who was responsible.

The RSF is in control of the majority of the capital of Khartoum, where a number of these telecoms companies facilities are located.

Another Drop in the Bucket

The communications disruptions are yet another of a long list of issues facing the Sudanese populace. The disruptions have largely shut down any method of online payments, leaving millions of people reliant upon such forms of payment unable to pay for basic necessities such as food.

The disruptions also severely harmed the ability of people to speak with their distanced families, an essential service with millions of Sudanese having become refugees since the beginning of the war in April.

Sudan is facing presently the worlds largest internal displacement crisis. A February 4th report by the UN claims that a total of 10.7 million people have been displaced by various conflicts which have plagued Sudan in recent years, with the majority, 7.7 million, coming from the current war between the Sudanese military junta and the RSF, which began in April. Of the 10.7 million, 9 million remain within Sudan, whereas the remaining 1.7 million have all fled to neighbouring countries, 1.6 million of which have fled since the start of the current war. Chad, which neighbours Darfur, is the most popular destination for refugees.

A map showing clashes, and refugee numbers from the current war within Sudan. These numbers are the total since April, 2023 (Photo from OCHA).

16 million people within have “insufficient food consumption”, with the highest percentage being within Darfur. Four out of Five of Darfur’s states have above 40% of their respective populations suffering from insufficient food consumption, with only East Darfur below 40%, sitting at 33%.

Another report on February 5th, by Doctors Without Borders, pointed to the disastrous humanitarian situation within the ZamZam refugee camp in North Darfur, where severe malnutrition, paired with a lack of medical access, is leading to the death of one child approximately every two hours, with an average of 13 children dying per day.

Humanitarian organizations and the UN have all warned of the high risk of a famine within Sudan, as hunger worsens and many areas within the nation remain inaccessible due to heavy fighting nationwide.

Peace processes have made little meaningful progress as of late, with no agreements for any ceasefires or humanitarian pauses being reached.