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First anti-human-trafficking conference begins in Sudan

July 17 - 2018 KHARTOUM
Human trafficking victims in Kassala, released by their captors on 22 February 2017 (file photo)
Human trafficking victims in Kassala, released by their captors on 22 February 2017 (file photo)

Anti-smuggling committees met in Khartoum to starts the first conference to combat human trafficking, with the participation of officials of the European Union (EU) on Monday. It’s two days after police freed 139 victims of human trafficking in Kassala.

Sudan’s Higher Committee to Combat Human Trafficking wants to develop a national anti-trafficking strategy with help and funding of the EU. Also representatives from the Horn of Africa (Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia) will take part in the conference that continues in Khartoum until July 17.

Undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice Ahmed Abbas, who chairs the committee, said that Sudan has endeavoured to combat human trafficking as “a heinous crime degrading dignity and humanity”.

The conference “constitutes an opportunity to strengthen partnership with countries and international and regional organisations to resolve the phenomenon at its root”.

The EU Ambassador to Sudan, Jean-Michel Dumond said that the conference on Monday will discuss the obstacles that groups of illegal immigrants have faced. “We have to apply standards for the protection of human rights, especially women and children and migrants against trafficking gangs.

“We must also develop programmes, exchange information and ways to address the phenomenon of trafficking in humans, especially the improper treatment of illegal immigrants.”

Released smuggling victims

The conference was preceded by the announcement on Sunday of the release of 139 hostages, including children and girls, from human trafficking gangs at El Ghaba area in Kassala state.

Police said the investigation confirmed the perpetrators’ rape of a number of girls during the period of detention. The perpetrators had demanded SDG160,000 ($5,684*) from the families of the hostages for the release of one person.

Governor of Sudan’s eastern state Kassala, Adam Jama’a, called on legislators to extend the state of emergency, saying it aids the combating of human trafficking and smuggling of goods.

Last December, President Omer Al Bashir issued a decree imposing a six-month state of emergency in North Kordofan and Kassala states. The national parliament would hold an extraordinary session on Monday to consider an extension.

Cooperation EU-Sudan

In June, Sudan, Chad and Libya all agreed to enhance the control and monitoring on the joint border areas. And at the end of June, Khartoum and the European Union EU launched their 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. It was also signed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Migration Agency.

Between 1 and 31 January 2018, 1,184 persons arrived in Italy by sea, representing 28 per cent of the illegal migrants who arrived during the first month of this year. They all crossed the Mediterranean from Libya. During the same period, 126 Sudanese crossed to Italy, according to the UNHCR.

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. In April this year, the New York Times 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.


* Based on the indicative US Dollar rate quoted by the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS)


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