Sudan Humanitarian Groups Plead with Starlink Amid Internet Blackout

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Hundreds of frontline humanitarian NGO’s in Sudan are urging Elon Musk’s Starlink service to continue its operations, as they rely on it to provide life-saving assistance to millions of people in regions affected by an internet blackout.

Last month, SpaceX’s Starlink service notified customers worldwide via email about its intention to limit roaming in regions where the service lacked licensing.

Sudan, among these jurisdictions, relies on the commercial satellite network for humanitarian and human rights organizations to conduct their work amid a devastating civil war.

According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, Save the Children and other organizations in an open letter, indiscriminate attacks and disruption of telecommunications by warring parties have severely affected civilians’ ability to cope with the effects of the war, as well as aid workers’ capacity to deliver essential services, with local responders most severely impacted.

“When available, internet access has been instrumental in assisting civilians share and receive critical and often lifesaving information, including about safe areas and routes,”

“In areas where formal telecommunication is barely functioning, both civilians and local responders, such as Emergency Response Rooms (ERRs), often connect through informal Starlink internet cafes.”

“The potential shutdown of Starlink would have a disproportionate effect on civilians and the aid organizations who are trying to reach them.” the open letter read.

On April 15th, 2023, violent clashes erupted between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Sudan.

Over a year of relentless warfare and indiscriminate violence have destroyed homes, towns, livelihoods, and critical civilian infrastructure.

Consequently, Sudan has become the world’s worst displacement crisis and is on the brink of becoming the world’s worst hunger crisis. In total, more than half of Sudan’s population – nearly 25 million people – need humanitarian aid.

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