4 September 2017

Sudan: Courts Deported More Than 100 Eritrean Refugees in August

Photo: Nordic Africa Institute
Five thousand refugees leave Eritrea each month according to UNHCR, making it one of the world's fastest-emptying countries.

Khartoum / Kassala — Sudanese courts deported 104 Eritrean refugees in August, and sentenced others to imprisonment for their 'illegal infiltration into the Sudanese territory'. A group of refugees was detained on its way to Libya more than a month ago.

Forty-four of the 104 Eritreans deported by courts in Khartoum and Kassala were women, sources informed Radio Dabanga. 43 people remain in Omdurman, awaiting trial.

Reports stated that in August, the East El Jareif court decided to deport 38 Eritrean refugees including 9 women back to Eritrea. A security force detained the group of refugees on its way to Libya more than one month ago, and held them in the prison in Omdurman before they were brought to trial on 24 August.

On Tuesday 29 August, the Sudanese authorities deported another 30 Eritreans to their country following a ruling issued by the Kassala city court the day before. Besides 36 Eritreans were sentenced to two months in prison for illegal infiltration into the Sudanese territory.

'The court has not allowed these refugees any lawyers to defend their case.' - source

The 66 Eritreans were arrested by a Sudanese military force in early July, during a raid on a site for smugglers at Wed Baow Forest of Wedel Hihlio locality. The group, including 35 women, were then sent to Kassala prison.

Speaking to Radio Dabanga, the confidential source explained that the court did not allow these refugees any lawyers to defend their case. The passports of the deportees were handed over to the Eritrean authorities at El Laffa border crossing last week.

30 children

The source said that 30 Eritrean children who were deported from Kassala, were brought to the passport police. They returned to Eritrea through El Laffa crossing, on the second day after the ruling.

The remaining 36 refugees will be deported after serving a prison term, which starts from the date they entered prison on 16 July, until mid-September.

Legal activists have condemned the refugee and asylum-seekers' trial by the Passport Act rather than the Refugee Law, that guarantees the rights of refugees. They called on the United Nations' Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to intervene urgently to stop the mass deportations.

Human trafficking

Human trafficking gangs in eastern Sudan have freed 22 Eritrean refugees, including three girls, who were kidnapped in mid-August after reportedly receiving a ransom ranging from $1,500 to $5,000 per person. Human trafficking is a perennial problem in the area, but residents of Red Sea state in eastern Sudan last week reported an increase in crimes concerning refugees and asylum seekers, including kidnappings, in the region.

According to the UN Refugee agency (UNHCR), Sudan is one of the main transit countries of eastern Africans who want to travel to Europe by sea. Funding by the European Commission to the Sudanese government earlier this year, to be implemented under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, contains a development aid package of €155 million, "to tackle the root causes of irregular migration in the country" and "improve migration management processes".

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