The European Union said it does not support Sudan's main paramilitary force through its cooperation with the Sudanese government for tackling migration to Europe, in reaction to statements by the paramilitary force's field commander last week.
The assistance to Sudan by the EU is delivered at bilateral and regional levels through international agencies and NGOs, not through the Sudanese government, the press statement by the EU Delegation in Sudan on Tuesday evening read.
It continued: “No support has never been provided to the Rapid Support Forces.”
The statement continues explaining the projects that the EU focusses on in Sudan in order to tackle the root causes of migration: improving livelihoods, stimulating youth employment, and supporting basic services for refugees, the displaced, and host communities.
The Delegation added that it helps on a regional level to build capacity to prevent trafficking and smuggling of human beings, to enhance international protection of victims of criminal networks, to raise awareness about the perils of irregular migration, and to increase opportunities for labour migration.
The statement follows last Thursday's remarks by the field commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Maj. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who hit-out at the EU for not thanking his forces for stopping illegal migrants at the border with Libya.
“The RSF lost many of its members and vehicles during their pursuit operations in the Libyan desert.” – RSF commander Dagalo
Dagalo claimed that the RSF troops, who stand under command of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), are fighting human trafficking from Sudan to Libya on behalf of Europe.
The Secretary-General of the rebel SPLM-N confirmed this on Sunday. “We received specific and detailed information about a plan drawn by [President] Omar Al Bashir and his security apparatus to finance the Janjaweed, reconstituted as the Rapid Support Forces, from funds provided to Sudan by the EU,” Yasir Arman said in a statement.
The funding by the European Commission to the Sudanese government earlier this year, 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.
After a draft proposal by the Commission and High Representative, Federica Mogherini, to divert development funds in order to assist partner countries in border and migration management activities – also covering military development – in July, scepticism about the implementation of the Emergency Trust Fund grew among opposition parties in Sudan.
Speaking to Radio Dabanga in August, Dr El Baqer El Afif, head of El Khatim Adlan Centre for Enlightenment, pointed out that Sudan is one of the most corrupt countries in the world according to Transparency International. “[The regime] will manipulate this money in order to keep the current government in power.”
El Afif expressed his concern about the new border security activities along the border. “In the border areas in the north they will definitely intercept, because this is their job, immigrants who are coming through these routes. But at the same time, they will intercept any other person. […] There is a lot of movement of gold miners and they will be subjected to arrests and arbitrarily detentions and these kind of things [by the RSF and border guard security].”