Internet blackout hits Sudan as UN appeals for $4.1 billion to ease ‘epic suffering’ caused by war

Internet connectivity was shut down in Sudan amid ongoing clashes between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) that have left thousands killed and millions displaced in nearly 10 months of fighting.

Internet monitoring firm, Netblocks confirmed the outage Wednesday, saying that all three of the major network operators in the warring North African nation were out of service.

The Sudanese foreign ministry blamed the RSF for the blackout which further complicates the dilemma of millions of locals unable to flee the conflict and who the UN says are in dire need of humanitarian aid. The RSF has yet to publicly deny responsibility for the blackout.

The UN appealed for $4.1 billion to meet the “most urgent humanitarian needs” amidst “epic suffering” in Sudan, adding that half of its population – some 25 million people need support and protection, with millions hungry and displaced by the war.

Citizens facing acute hunger

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR) launched the joint appeal, seeking $2.7 billion for humanitarian aid to 14.7 million people, and $1.4 billion to support nearly 2.7 million refugees in five countries neighboring Sudan.

“Ten months of conflict have robbed the people of Sudan of nearly everything – their safety, their homes and their livelihoods,” said the UN’s emergency aid chief Martin Griffiths, adding that last year’s appeal was less than half funded.

The RSF on Thursday called for “prompt action from regional and international organizations and agencies to provide urgent relief, adding that Sudanese civilians were “facing the real possibility of starvation.”

Nearly 18 million people are facing acute hunger, according to OCHA, with civilian infrastructure like water supplies damaged by the fighting, and three-quarters of health facilities not functioning in conflict areas.

Some 19 million children not attending school, continued widespread human rights violations, and gender-based violence are among the challenges cited in the UN’s funding appeal.

The war that erupted in April 2023 between Sudan’s Armed forces and the paramilitary RSF has created the world’s largest displacement crisis, with children making up nearly 4 million of those fleeing their homes.

In Sudan’s North Darfur Zamzam camp for displaced people, at least one child dies every two hours from malnutrition, according to estimates by the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders.

Source: CNN

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