The European Union signed development cooperation agreements with two United Nations projects on the management of natural resources in Darfur and West Kordofan. The EU stays committed to improving its ties with Sudan regarding irregular migration, an “area of mutual concern”.
Ambassador Tomas Ulicny, Head of Delegation of the EU, signed the funding agreements worth a total of €6.5 million on the occasion of 'Europe Day', at a reception in Khartoum on Monday.
Initial funding of €3 million goes to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to implement a project in Darfur in support of small-scale rural farmers, pastoralists and displaced people, in order to transparently manage their fragile land resources and achieve peaceful and sustainable development.
FAO will implement the project with support from the Darfur Land Commission (DLC), the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA), the Voluntary Return and Resettlement Commission (VRRC) and state Ministries of Agriculture, Animal Resources and Housing and Public Infrastructure.
The EU is also providing €3.4 million for a project implemented by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Darfur Development and Reconstruction Agency, and SOS Sahel in West Kordofan, West and Central Darfur. The aim of the project is to better manage natural resources and provide technical assistance, for local youth, farmers, and more.
'Sudan is an important partner in the challenging region'
Ambassador Tomas Ulicny observed that the EU relations with Sudan have witnessed significant development in recent months. Several visits between Brussels and Khartoum “enabled both sides to frankly exchange views on areas of mutual concern, including new areas such as irregular migration which has become one of the main topics for the EU in relations with Sudan”.
Kamal Ismael, State Minister of Foreign Affairs representing the Sudanese government, told the press at the reception that he praised the recent progress in relations with the EU. “Sudan is an important partner in the challenging region,” he said.
At the end of a meeting with the Speaker of the Sudanese National Assembly, Ibrahim Ahmed Omer, Ambassador Ulicny noted the efforts by the National Assembly to strengthen laws on irregular migration, smuggling, human trafficking, the status of long term migrants, and combating radicalisation.
He said that the EU currently supports 67 development and humanitarian projects worth €150 million implemented by local and international organisations in Sudan.
“Establishing good neighbourly relations with South Sudan is key to peace in Darfur which is key to the stability of Sudan and the region,” Ulicny added.
The Ambassador called for a durable peace to be based on promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of expression and media, confronting extremism, and good mutual relations with all the neighbours of Sudan, among others. Listen to Tomas Ulicny’s speech here
€155 million package
Recent funding by the Union, to be implemented under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, contains the development aid package of €100 million that is aimed to tackle the root causes of instability, irregular migration and displacement in Sudan. Targeted areas are eastern Sudan, Darfur and South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Another €40 million is appointed to Better Migration Management, supporting the process in Khartoum. An additional amount of €15 million should improve the living conditions of refugees and host communities in eastern Sudan (Kassala) and Khartoum, and strengthen the capacity of local authorities.
Opposition parties in eastern Sudan have demanded the large funding package to tackle illegal immigration by the EU, to be used for selected projects, fearing that the money might enter into the pockets of corrupt groups in Sudan.