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Sudanese Journalists Accuse Military of Blocking Access to Troubled Darfur

FILE - Sudanese journalists protest against restrictions on media freedom, at the headquarters of the National Council for Press and Publications, in Sudan's capital Khartoum, Nov. 15, 2017.

The Sudanese Journalists Network (SJN) has accused Sudan’s military of blocking journalists from the troubled Darfur region. Recent clashes there left hundreds of people dead and more than 100,000 displaced. Sudan's military initially cited the security situation for the ban, but in a statement Wednesday denied any such ban exists.

The issue began when a correspondent for Al Jazeera television applied for a travel permit to Darfur and her application was rejected. Many other journalists say they were also denied permission to go to Darfur.

The Sudanese Journalists Network (SJN) called on the journalists to stand up for freedom of the press.

Khalid Fathi, a member of SJN, says the network is taking a strong stand against this decision, as they refuse any attitudes or practices by the former regime. He says journalists shall stand against any attempt to take away the freedom of press and free expression and will not allow it at all.The Sudanese military is denying the allegations. It says it has been facilitating access for the journalists and correspondents in different volatile regions of Sudan, including the tense northeastern border with Ethiopia.

Sudan’s ministry of information issued a press statement Wednesday backing up the military’s stance.

Yousif Hindosa is part The Committee to Restore the Sudanese Journalist Union, which was shutdown after the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir. Hindosa condemned the denials.

Hindosa says this is so disappointing that as journalists, we can't do our duty to inform the people and the world what is going on in El-Genina. There are thousands of displaced families, killed and injured people. Only a journalist could reflect what is going on in the ground. To restrict a journalist is an apostasy and a disappointing attitude from a government supposed to represent the revolution.

The Sudanese Journalists Network was honored with Press Freedom Award last year by Reporters Without Borders for its stance on freedom of the press and its role in pushing for political change in Sudan.

U.N. agencies say at least 117,000 people have been internally displaced because of last week’s inter-communal clashes in Darfur, with thousands fleeing to neighboring Chad.