On the 15th of April, a war broke out between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), exposing the civilian population to death, and displacement. As of 14 May, killing at least 676 people and injuring 5,576 since the fighting began, according to the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) as of 11 May. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes to find safer places within and outside Sudan, whereas thousands are still stuck at their homes facing the use of heavy weapons, shelling, and air strikes.
In the last two-decade-long conflict in Darfur, the RSF Commander has been accused of using rape as a weapon of war. Since anti-government protests began in Sudan at the end of 2018, doctors in Khartoum said "they believed the RSF had carried out more than 70 rapes when it attacked a peaceful demonstration in June 2019". Originally, the Janjaweed militias trace their roots to armed nomadic groups in western Sudan. They first attracted international attention after a terrible genocide in 2003. Former president Omer Albashir organised the Janjaweed into the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) as a separate unit in 2013, initially to fight rebels in the Nuba Mountains. In 2017, a law legitimised the group as an independent security force.
In the last two-decade-long conflict in Darfur, the RSF Commander has been accused of using rape as a weapon of war.
Since December 2018, millions of people have been demonstrating and calling for a civil-led government. In August 2019, a transitional government was formed under the 2019 Constitutional Declaration and the subsequent 2020 Juba Peace Agreement.On October 25, 2021, the Sudanese military, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, took control of Sudan’s government in a military coup, hindering an internationally endorsed process of democratic transition. The SAF and RSF leaders took control over the government, yet they have faced renewed isolation, weekly protests, and further deteriorated economic woes. Here is when tension between the SAF and RSF leaders started to build up, especially when Hemedti swerved behind the plan for a new transition, bringing tensions with Burhan to the surface. 
The electricity purchase system broke down, leaving citizens in a total blackout after their supply balance ran out. Telecom services quickly deteriorated less than 48 hours into the conflict. On April 30, NetBlocks declared that MTN, which is one of the main Telecom companies operating in Sudan, experienced a brief collapse in connectivity, due to a shortage of energy supply. On May 5, MTN Sudan announced that all their systems were down due to power outages and difficulties transporting fuel for generators. Due to the conflict, Sudanese citizens cannot access internet services via USSD, a GSM protocol used to purchase services such as data top-up. The interruption lasted several days until Zain Sudan offered free access to WhatsApp. On April 23, the Sudanese Armed Forces announced that the RSF occupied Sudatel Center, the oldest telecom exchange building in Sudan housing the data centers of government-owned Sudatel (Sudani). This resulted in the company's telecom and internet services going down, thereby isolating its users from the rest of the world.
One of the most sophisticated spyware in the world is used by Sudan's Rapid Support Forces (RSF). It was revealed on November 30, 2022, by Haaretz and The LightHouse Report, that Israeli surveillance technology was exported to Sudan between April and August 2022 undeclared Cessna jet flying from the EU to Sudan, through which Sudan’s junta received high-tech surveillance equipment illegally from the flight. Thus, it is important that the international community recognize this armed group as a terrorist organisation, and impose targeted sanctions and arms embargo on them. It is also important that the international community remember that the military leaders are politicized and affiliated with the former regime. The former regime that was formed by Omer Albashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for five counts of crimes against humanity, torture, and rape; two counts of war crimes, and three counts of genocide, since 16 October 1993, and 4 March 2009 and 12 July 2010, at time of warrants.
One of the most sophisticated spyware in the world is used by Sudan's Rapid Support Forces (RSF). It was revealed on November 30, 2022, by Haaretz and The LightHouse Report, that Israeli surveillance technology was exported to Sudan between April and August 2022 undeclared Cessna jet flying from the EU to Sudan, through which Sudan’s junta received high-tech surveillance equipment illegally from the flight.
Following this, in 1993, the United States designated Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, a distinction currently shared by just two other countries, Iran and Syria. As a result, the US imposed economic and technological sanctions on Sudan. On the export of technology to Sudan, U.S sanctions have impeded access to a wide range of technologies including telecommunication equipment as well as a long list of important hardware, software, online services, and other tools that are crucial to Sudanese exercising their human right to freedom of expression online.The human rights situation in Sudan continues to deteriorate, while women are paying higher prices. Four rape cases have been reported, “I believe that the cases are way more than that, but because of what has been going on, not all the victims can reach us and get the support needed,” said Suliema Ishaq, the director of the combating violence against women unit at the Ministry of Social Affairs in Sudan. However, most of the rape cases confirmed that they were raped by members of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Currently, psychological support to rape victims is offered online, including information about access to rape medical treatment protocols.However, sanctions can deny internet access when people need it the most, which in another situation could have facilitated access to information and services online, as well as access to the internet at places most affected by the war that are currently witnessing outages, due to the impact of war on the telecom infrastructure.
On another note, a number of hospitals have been turned into RSF bases since SAF fighters have shown reluctance to attack public infrastructure facilities where civilians could hide or seek treatment. In a statement, the Sudanese Doctors Trade Union (SDTU) said it would "remain committed to the values and traditions of the medical profession, and the protocols to be followed in situations of armed conflict, to continue to provide health and treatment services amidst a semi-complete collapse of the health sector, which has become a battlefield". This has left hundreds of thousands of pregnant women without a place to access reproductive health services, according to UNFPA, the United Nations Sexual and reproductive health agency. The few open hospitals are understaffed, under-resourced, and, sometimes, under attack. This is when the healthcare providers have taken to social media platforms particularly Facebook and Twitter, to coordinate. Furthermore, Facebook has supported trusted partners by disabling the blockage of pharmaceutical content on Facebook, to support citizens to find information about necessary medications nearby their neighborhood.
This has left hundreds of thousands of pregnant women without a place to access reproductive health services, according to UNFPA, the United Nations Sexual and reproductive health agency.
Many citizens have their passports locked at the Western embassies, which forced them to stay in Sudan, and hindered their chances to skip the war with their families. Others fled their homes without the ability to get their identity documents, due to RSF raiding and looting their houses. Taking this, since 2017, mobile service providers were enforced to mandatory register SIM cards to keep a complete record of their customer’s data, as per Article 9 of the NTC’s General Regulations 2012. It is important for the Telecommunication and Post Regulatory Authority to ease access to lost sim cards by considering any form of identity documents to allow citizens to access communication tools with their family and loved ones, as well as online services.
Amid the ongoing military violence in Sudan, the resistance committees have remained the backbone of Sudanese society, providing vital resources such as medicine, food, and water to those in need. The resistance committees have played a significant role in Sudan’s democratic transition since the 2018-19 revolution, with women being at the front lines against former dictator Omar al-Bashir. It is important for the International Community to realise the needs of Sudanese youth, calling for democracy and peace to prevail. The resistance committees called to delegitimize RSF for their known criminal history in Darfur, and they have been also involved in killing and rapping both men and women at the Khartoum massacre sit-in next to the military headquarters with other security forces.
The international community must hold RSF accountable for the war and wreaking havoc they are responsible for, as well as ensure Jeddah negotiations will continue to end the war, as well as ensure that a civil-led government is formed. Nevertheless, Women's participation in peace negotiations and political transitions must be highly considered, to ensure their rights are met in political participation and peace agreements. Finally, the international community, particularly the US, must consider lifting economic sanctions against Sudan, and technology restrictions must become fully lifted for Sudanese to utilize technology to receive services amid this war, as well as for developing their country. On the contrary, the U.S. must consider targeted sanctions that can have more impact on the former regime leaders.
Please look out for #Sudan #SudanUpdates #KeepEyesOnSudan #EyesOnDarfur and لا_للحرب#; share this article with these hashtags, so that the people of Sudan, activists, human rights advocates, Pan Africanists, and those who stand in solidarity with Sudan can get to see this short article and share it to the wider global community. May the people of Sudan experience the true meaning of democracy by gaining the right to their choice of a governance system which is a civil government with progressive human rights.
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