Khartoum and the European Union EU have launched a joint initiative to combat human trafficking and illegal migration in Sudan, a main source and transit country for many refugees attempting to travel to Europe.
The Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration for Sudan was signed by the EU, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Migration Agency and the government of Sudan on Thursday in the Sudanese capital.
The initiative receives funding through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa and will be implemented by the IOM, with a budget of €45 million for the entire Horn of Africa (Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia). It runs over the course of three years.
On Sunday Sudan’s Foreign Minister El Dirdeiry Mohamed Ahmed met with the EU Ambassador to Sudan Jean-Michel Dumond to discuss the new initiative, as well as ways to enhance EU developmental assistance to Sudan, according to the official Sudanese News Agency (SUNA).
Dumond held a speech following the event. “Managing migration poses challenges for many countries – this applies to EU Member States and of course also to African countries… The initiative we launch today bridges both internal and external aspects, and indeed illustrates the complexity of the migration phenomenon.
“We fully realise that Sudan is currently facing difficult times.”- Jean-Michel Dumond
“We place a great emphasis on the voluntary nature of the returns, and on the need to support also the communities to which persons are returning. In 2017, more than 15,000 individuals safely returned from the EU to their home countries in Africa and were supported with reintegration assistance. As a point of reference, EU Member States granted asylum to over 720,000 persons in the year 2016, and in the year 2017, to 382,000.”
Dumond: “Sustainability is a crucial element of any EU development cooperation programme, and indeed it is vital that we seek to ensure that the money of the European tax payer is well spent… In this respect, establishment of a National Coordination Mechanism on migration in Sudan is eagerly awaited.
“We fully realise that Sudan is currently facing difficult times. We are seeking to find innovative ways in which to support the people of Sudan in this challenging period. We are also seeking, in the very near future, to work closer with relevant stakeholders to ensure a more robust economy and financial framework that will allow for enhanced delivery of social services and other basic needs.”
In October 2017, Dumond referred to migration as “an important element of our engagement with the government of Sudan.
“There are considerable flows of cross border migrants emanating from or passing through Darfur. The EU is seeking to work with the Government of Sudan on this issue, in particular with the Sudanese Migration Coordination Mechanism, which is yet to be fully constituted. This work will be carried out in full respect of International Conventions and Human Rights, and in accordance with the robust EU accountability mechanisms.
“Our support, as is the case for all our work in Sudan, will be channelled via relevant UN organisations, EU Member State Agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations in close coordination with the Sudanese government.”
‘Dubious border management’
International organisations have shown doubts whether the funding for Sudan’s border migration management to combat illegal migration will be channelled through non-Sudanese groups. 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 notorious paramilitary Rapid Support Forces – which the EU denied.
In April this year, the New York Times also online pointed to the EU “quietly getting its hands dirty” by outsourcing border management to countries with dubious human rights records. Radio Dabanga then 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.
Last month Sudan and Chad agreed to enhance their border security cooperation and promote economic, social and political relations on the joint border area. On June 2, Libya’s foreign ministry at the Government of National Accord signed a quadripartite agreement to control and monitor borders among Libya, Sudan, Chad and Niger in Ndjamena.
EU Trust Fund
In April 2016, the EU established the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa: it contains the development aid package of €100 million aimed to tackle the root causes of instability, irregular migration and displacement. 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.