EU diverts development funds to finance armies

The EU Commission wants to assist partner countries in border and migration management, including in Sudan, as part of a larger effort to stop people from fleeing to Europe.

The European Commission and High Representative put forward measures that would assist partner countries in border and migration management activities, including in Sudan, as part of a larger effort to stop people from fleeing to Europe.

On Tuesday, a Joint Communication on security sector reform and a legislative proposal to foster security and sustainable development in partner countries were announced by the European Commission and High Representative Federica Mogherini.

The proposed measures should enhance the European Union's effectiveness to provide comprehensive assistance to the security sector in partner countries, including the military under exceptional circumstances.

The EU financial support covers the military development and human security-related tasks, such as border and migration management activities, besides mine clearing and disarmament and demobilisation of ex-combatants.

“Investing in the security of our partner countries is in the EU's and our partners' interests. We all face common challenges of terrorism, conflicts and extremism. We must empower our partners to tackle their own security, governance and stability,” High Representative Federica Mogherini explained in a press statement.

Sudanese army

The Commission's draft proposal stated that money initially planned for development aid will be diverted to border control management and other proposed measures; without the use of additional financial resources.

The Sudanese military may benefit from the EU assistance. Starting last June, Sudan has stationed its paramilitary forces in the western desert near the Sudanese-Libyan border. On Monday the forces claimed the arrest of more than 300 illegal immigrants who were reportedly travelling to Libya to cross the sea to Europe.

Human rights

The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are part of Sudan's security apparatus, commanded by Brig. General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo 'Hemeti', a former leader of the proxy militias that were popularly known as the Janjaweed in Darfur.

According to Human Rights Watch investigations in 2015, RSF members 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.

'Development and security go hand in hand.'

The EU's proposed assistance to partner countries should follow the principles of respect for human rights and adherence to international humanitarian law, the Commission stated on Tuesday. “Development and security go hand in hand,” said Neven Mimica, EU development commissioner following the announcement to finance military activities.

Tackling migration

According to the United Nations Refugee agency (UNHCR), Sudan appears to be one of the main transit countries of Eritreans and Somalis who travel to Italy by sea – two of the largest groups of immigrants arriving in Europe.

Recent funding by the European Commission to the Sudanese government, to be implemented under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, contains the development aid package of €155 million, to tackle the root causes of irregular migration in the country and improve migration management processes. 

Sudanese activists have claimed that the EU policies in the campaign against illegal immigration and human trafficking by providing such funds to African governments are futile. They fear that the aid package is used to tighten the grip by the security apparatus on the population.

(Source: EU Observer)