Urgent appeal to protect and support Sudanese media

People queue to refill donkey-drawn water tanks during a water crisis in Port Sudan, in war-torn Sudan. The war between Sudan's army and a paramilitary force since April 2023 has killed tens of thousands and forced millions to flee their homes.
Image credit

A year after the outbreak of war in Sudan, the profound impact on press freedom and the safety of journalists becomes clear. The country is torn apart by bloody fighting between the Sudanese People's Armed Forces and the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces. Amid the humanitarian crisis that has plagued the country for a decade, the war has now caused 8.5 million people to flee. Free Press Unlimited urges the international community to protect and support independent Sudanese journalists and media outlets.

The first casualty in war is truth. It is no different in Sudan. The Sudanese Journalist Syndicate (SJS) documented 377 attacks on press freedom in one year, it announced 6 May at an online conference, organised by the Sudan offices of the OHCHR and UNESCO. SJS states that hundreds of journalists have fled the country. 200 of them are said to have fled to immediately surrounding countries, 150 to Egypt and 100 to Uganda. Forced into exile by attacks on media houses and journalists.

According to the Sudanese Journalist Syndicate, 26 newspapers, at least ten radio stations and six TV stations have been shut down in a year. Of three foreign TV stations, the picture was blacked out (Sky News, Al-Arabiya and Al-Hadath), but this has since been reversed. Buildings of 29 media companies were looted and destroyed.

Emergency support

Since the start of the war, international press freedom groups such as Free Press Unlimited provided emergency support to journalists at risk. But when you are in exile, it is difficult to remain productive as a journalist.

At the conference, organized at the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, Leon Willems, senior advisor international partnerships at Free Press Unlimited made a warm plea for urgent, collective and increased international action to change the exiled journalists into active information gatherers and producers.

The plea of Willems is in line with the needs assessment of the Sudan Media Forum, a new front of all the independent media outlets in Sudan. The statement calls on the global community to protect journalists, establish an emergency fund for immediate aid, prosecute crimes including the murder of six journalists, take action against hate speech and disinformation, and make the media in Sudan sustainable, resilient and viable.


The warring parties have each taken over several media outlets for their own propaganda and spreading disinformation and hate messages. Furthermore, power is deliberately cut in several areas and internet connections are down. This is to make it impossible for independent news sources to spread news. But it also prevents normal people from receiving money transfers, as an estimated 95% of the population that remains in the country depends on money transfers from online banking services.

The situation in Darfur is the most serious. But also elsewhere in the country, journalists' lives are not secure. However, attacks on journalists are still commonplace. The SJS has documented the deaths of six journalists, including two women.

Humanitarian crisis

According tot Willems, urgent action is required: The massive cost for civilians of the dramatic human rights and humanitarian crisis in the country needs urgent, strategic and concrete steps by the international community to prevent further bloodshed and violations from taking place. Also, to address the humanitarian crisis, it is necessary to take urgent steps to protect journalists, counter the use of disinformation and hate speech and reinject communications infrastructure to ease the information blackout on Sudan.

This is why Free Press Unlimited, together with the GFMD appeals to the international community and the member states of the Media Freedom Coalition to do more for press freedom and media survival in Sudan and engage in urgent action to ensure independent journalism remains available to the people of Sudan.

Read the SJS report here:

Read the full statement here:

Support journalists in and around Sudan

Donate here

Share this page:

Sudan crisis, 
Media and conflict