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21 Mar 2024

Access Now

Sudan: The devastating consequences of internet shutdowns on "one of the world's worst humanitarian crisis"

Shutterstock (purchased)

"The Sudan conflict: how internet shutdowns deepen a humanitarian crisis"

Nearly a year has passed since conflict erupted in Sudan between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Internet shutdowns during the Sudan conflict have compounded the suffering of millions, cutting people off from assistance when they need it most.

The latest data from Sudan paints a harrowing picture. Since April 15, 2023, the Sudan conflict has tragically claimed the lives of more than 13,000 individuals, causing what has been described as “one of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.” Over nine million people have been displaced within Sudan, and more than 1.7 million have fled to neighboring countries. With a total of 10.7 million people displaced due to the crisis, the World Food Program (WFP) is warning that the “world’s worst hunger crisis” is looming. 

Amidst this devastation and turmoil, the people of Sudan have suffered repeated internet blackouts, as the RSF and SAF have used network disruptions to control information flows in areas held by the opposing faction. As stories from the people impacted document, these blackouts have left people disconnected, stranded, hungry, and afraid. They have blocked access to emergency services and medicine, frozen banking services and access to funds, obstructed people from applying for official travel documents and leaving the country, and disrupted work and study. Millions have been cut off from their loved ones, both inside and outside Sudan.


In February 2024, an internet blackout, believed to have been triggered by the RSF’s takeover of internet service providers’ (ISP) data centers in Khartoum on February 2, plunged the entire country into darkness. This created additional challenges in what was already a critically dangerous situation, complicating ongoing efforts to provide emergency assistance and humanitarian aid, as well as blocking consular services, access to crucial information, and financial transactions. The blackout persisted for nearly 10 days, prompting major ISPs like Zain Sudan, Sudani, and MTN Sudan to issue apologies for disruptions.

After weeks of continued disruptions, connectivity levels gradually returned to normal in March. Zain Sudan successfully restored its services on March 3 after the company established new data centers in Port Sudan City and began operating from there. Other ISPs, such as Sudani, the main operator of Sudatel, also slowly restored connectivity. Sudani announced a phased return to coverage across regions in Sudan in February and early March, which was facilitated by establishing new data centers in Port Sudan.  

It remains imperative that connectivity is fully restored and maintained. Below, we present five stories that we collected through our Shutdown Impact Stories Project to shed light on the human impact of the recent internet shutdowns in Sudan...


Internet shutdowns have dire consequences, and can cause irreversible damage to lives and institutions. No one should tolerate a government cutting off internet access, especially in times of conflict. Yet for years, Sudanese authorities and warring parties have wielded internet shutdowns during civil unrest and periods of political instability, as a method of controlling the flow of information and suppressing dissent. In fact, Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition have documented at least 19 shutdowns since 2018, making Sudan the country with the second-highest in the number of shutdowns in Africa during that period. Past shutdowns have shrouded horrific violence against the Sudanese people, including deadly crackdowns against protesters, atrocities, deaths, and rape...