23 April 2018

Sudan: RSF Militia Captures 66 Migrants in North Darfur

El Fasher / New York — The Rapid Support Forces, Sudan's main militia, foiled an attempt to smuggle people to Libya on Saturday. The European Union is "quietly getting its hands dirty [..] by outsourcing border management to countries with dubious human rights records," says the New York Times.

The head of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in North Darfur told the press on Saturday that members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) intercepted two Land Cruisers in Wadi Howar that were on their way to the Sudanese-Libyan border.

Apart from the smugglers, the vehicles carried 66 migrants: Six Ethiopians and 37 Sudanese. There were eight women and seven children among them.

The Governor of North Darfur, Abdelwahed Yousef, added that security agents recently managed to arrest eight human trafficking gangs in the state.

Transit country

According to the UN refugee agency, Sudan is one of the main transit countries for eastern Africans who want to travel to Europe by sea.

In April 2016, the EU announced it would provide about € 100 million to address irregular migration and improve living conditions of refugees and host communities in eastern Sudan. About € 40 million from the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa would be earmarked for a programme to better manage migration in the region.

End that year, the European Commission approved a € 170 million package of 11 new actions under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa to improve stability and address the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement in the Horn of Africa region.

'Border management'

The USA-based activist organisation Enough Project warned in April 2017 that EU's financial support to Sudan in mitigating and combating illegal migration would assist the RSF - which the EU denied.

On Sunday, the New York Times online pointed as well to the EU "quietly getting its hands dirty [..] by outsourcing border management to countries with dubious human rights records.

"In practical terms, the approach is working: The number of migrants arriving in Europe has more than halved since 2016. But many migration advocates say the moral cost is high," the author, Patrick Kingsley, stated.

Though Europe continues to enforce an arms embargo against the country, the relationship between the EU and Sudan "is unmistakably deepening". The EU has even agreed that Khartoum will act as a nerve centre for counter-smuggling collaboration.

The evolving relationship could mean that European leaders are implicitly reliant on a Sudanese security apparatus whose leaders have been accused by the UN of committing war crimes in Darfur," the article reads.

European officials have direct contact only with the Sudanese immigration police, and not with the RSF militia or the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). "But their operations are not that far removed."

Calls for recognition

Earlier this month, Radio Dabanga reported that the commander of RSF, Gen. Mohamed Hamdan (aka Hemeti) wanted the international community to recognise the efforts of his troops to halt human trafficking. In September 2016, he blamed the EU for not thanking the RSF for their efforts to halt human trafficking from Sudan to Libya "on behalf of Europe".

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