Aid workers bear brunt of Sudan telecoms collapse

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Emergency Telecommunications Cluster

from RAJI BASHIR in Khartoum, Sudan
KHARTOUM, (CAJ News) – THE Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) is battling to raise more than US$6 million to provide information and communications technology (ICT) services to humanitarian workers in war-torn Sudan.

This comes amid the lack of reliable telecommunications infrastructure and power cuts that continue to pose a significant challenge and further complicates efforts to deliver aid to the needy.

National telecommunications infrastructure has borne the brunt of the conflict that began in early 2023.

Much of Sudan, where over 8 million people have fled their homes is affected by several internet blackouts which began in February this year.

Partial restoration of services by mobile network operators, Sudani and Zain, has provided limited connectivity.

However, these are frequently interrupted due to power cuts and infrastructure damage.

For 2024, the ETC requires $6,3 million to continue its provision and expansion of shared ICT services across Sudan in support of humanitarian operations.

So far in 2024, only the United Kingdom Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office has allocated £240 385 ($308 200). Thus the ETC is 5 percent funded.

“The ETC is calling for supplementary funds to cover this shortfall,” said Richard Egwangu, ETC Coordinator.

“Security concerns, restricted travel, and logistical constraints continue to create operational challenges,” Egwangu added.

Despite the financial setbacks, ETC has made progress.

It is providing internet connectivity services in 60 sites accessed by aid workers of the United Nations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). ETC is connecting UN agencies including International Organisation for Migration, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UN Resident Coordinators’ Office, UN Women and World Food Programme.

The ETC is expanding its operational presence into the troubled Darfur, Khartoum and Kordofan regions while sustaining services in existing locations such as Port Sudan and Kassala.

The organisation is also planning a pilot project at Alashy Camp in Port Sudan to provide connectivity services to approximately 600 internally displaced people.

– CAJ News

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