Khartoum — The head of the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Sudan had a constructive meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today. There are many common areas of interest, he said, including cooperation on migration.
EU Ambassador Jean-Michel Dumond told journalists after the end of the meeting at the ministry that the talks with the Sudanese officials were "open" and "constructive". "Fifteen representatives of the EU member states for EU policy on Africa are visiting Sudan to deepen their understanding of the ongoing developments in the country and the region."
The delegation counts 19 visitors from the EU member states and EU institutions in total. They met with Ibrahim Ghandour, Minister of Foreign Affairs, representatives of political parties, youth, women, religious groups, business and civil society leaders. "We discussed a range of topics, including development in the European Union, development in Sudan, concerning National Dialogue, politics, new government, and human rights," Radio Dabanga reported from Dumond's press conference.
The European Union Ambassador said there are many common areas of interest. Cooperation on migration was just one of the agenda topics during the meetings. "We discussed, with a general focus point, migration. We continue our programmes. We were in Kassala and Gedaref states last week. We visited camps and looked at the needs of these cooperations, and saw that our programmes are implemented for the benefit of refugees, locals, and migrants, in order to address the root causes of migration.
"It is a very complex problem but we are on a good way, and will continue in that direction." In April 2016, the EU officially allocated Sudan €100 million to improve the living conditions for refugees, help Sudanese returnees to reintegrate back into society, and to improve security at the border. Sudan would also benefit from additional funding under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, in particular from a €40 million programme to better manage migration in the region.
The war and insecurity in Libya, Chad, Ethiopia and South Sudan were also among the topics, and for the latter the EU delegates stressed to open the borders for South Sudanese refugees.
The delegates mentioned the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd) during the meeting, to which Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia declared to approve its construction in 2015. But there have been concerns from Egypt that the dam might reduce its water quota of the Nile water, while the Ethiopian side maintains that the dam is primarily built to produce electricity and will not harm Sudan and Egypt.
"In the Nile Bassin, there is a need for cooperation. The dam in Ethiopia, which is meant for hydro power, and not for irrigation, if well-used and implemented in cooperation with all countries, can be beneficiary for everyone," Dumond said. "I think it was a useful meeting."
The delegates, acknowledging the recent efforts for peace undertaken by the Sudanese government, said that more steps are necessary to unite all the Sudanese to achieve a meaningful change that can be felt by Sudanese people in all the regions of Sudan.
Ambassador Jean-Michel Dumond announced that Jan Figel, EU special envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU is also starting his visit to Sudan on Wednesday, to promote religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue and address the fight against extremism.
Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom expressed their deep concerns about the convictions of Christians in Sudan in February. Sudan Democracy First Group and the Hudo Centre have repeatedly claimed that Christians and their freedom of religion is targeted by Sudanese authorities.