15 April 2018

Sudan: Commander of Main Militia Wants International Recognition

Khartoum — The commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Sudan's main militia, has called on the international community to recognise the efforts of his troops to halt illegal immigration, human trafficking and cross border crimes.

The official Sudanese News Agency (SUNA) reported on Thursday that RSF commander Gen. Mohamed Hamdan (aka Hemeti) called on the international community to lift Sudan's name from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism.

Addressing 2,650 new RSF graduates at the War College in Khartoum on Thursday, Hamdan referred to the major role the regular forces and the RSF are playing to prevent the smuggling of migrants and goods to neighbouring countries.

The commander renewed RSF's commitment to the directives of President Omar Al Bashir to defend Saudi Arabia, "the land of the two holy shrines", and the Gulf states, in addition to Sudan's participation in the Arab Coalition Forces "to restore legality in the sisterly Yemen".

He emphasised that the RSF "reject all sabotage and negative acts that harm the people and the homeland".

He further announced his support to the president's efforts concerning the comprehensive reform process that is taking place in the country, and expressed his rejection of all forms of economic sabotage.

Funding

It is not the first time that the militia commander calls for international recognition. In September 2016, he blamed the European Union for not thanking the RSF for their efforts to halt human trafficking from Sudan to Libya "on behalf of Europe".

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.

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.

According to Human Rights Watch investigations in 2015, the RSF are accountable for widespread systematic crimes against civilians, constituting "egregious crimes" against humanity and war crimes. Most atrocities were part of a widely announced government offensive against armed rebels in Darfur: jointly with the Sudan Air Force, RSF troops repeatedly attacked villages. More recently, the RSF are wreaking havoc and assaulting and robbing people in the area of Jebel Marra.

A community leader in eastern Sudan's Kassala complained in March this year about "the killings and attacks" carried out by RSF troops against the people in the state. He told Radio Dabanga that the militiamen "have turned into a real nightmare provoking panic and fear by harassing the residents on the pretext of commodity smuggling."

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