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Sudan police raid hostage sites, refugees in custody

April 20 - 2018 PORT SUDAN
Sudan police stop human traffickers transporting Eritrean refugees in eastern Sudan (file photo)
Sudan police stop human traffickers transporting Eritrean refugees in eastern Sudan (file photo)

Police in eastern Sudan have raided places where 25 illegal immigrants, most of them from Eritrea, were being held hostage by a human trafficking gang. The immigrants have been taken into custody.

The human trafficking gangs in Port Sudan, capital of Red Sea state, held 25 hostages including 18 girls in apartments in the city.

Two of the hostages were injured as they were trying to jump from the balcony of the apartment where they had been held, on Wednesday evening. They have been taken to the emergency section of the Port Sudan hospital.

Local journalist Osman Hashim told Radio Dabanga that the gang had distributed the hostages to a number of houses and apartments. “On Tuesday and Wednesday police raided the detention places, managed to free the hostages, and put them into custody.

“They have not yet found the gang’s members.”

The hostages had crossed the border and fled into Sudan with the help of other human traffickers. They were reportedly preparing to smuggle the refugees into Egypt when the human trafficking gang discovered them, held them hostage, and forced them to pay large sums of money for their release.

Human trafficking networks

Human trafficking gangs in Sudan are known to take refugees hostage. In January, police in Kassala freed 95 foreign hostages from human traffickers. Two Eritrean refugees were killed in a gunfight between human traffickers and a security force in Kassala in October last year.

In February this year, African intelligence agencies announced a cooperation plan with the African Union (AU) and the United Nations to curb illegal immigration. The agencies plan to dismantle human trafficking networks which are known to smuggle Africans through Sudan and Libya to Europe.

According to the UN Refugee agency (UNHCR), Sudan is one of the main transit countries for eastern Africans who want to travel to Europe by sea. In recent years large funding by the European Commission to the Sudanese government, implemented under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (see box below), addressed “the root causes of irregular migration in the country” and “improve migration management processes”.

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 RSF – which the EU denied.


Funds for Sudan

In April 2016, the EU said it would provide about €100 million (an estimated $110 million) to address irregular migration and improve living conditions of refugees and host communities in eastern Sudan. €40 million (about $42.5 million) from the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa is earmarked for a programme to better manage migration in the region.

On 15 December, the European Commission approved a package of 11 new actions under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa to improve stability and address the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement in the Horn of Africa region. The €170 million ($177.28 million) package includes a project in three cross-border areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan. For Sudan specifically, three projects will address instability and forced displacement through improved access to primary education (with €22 million), strengthening of livelihoods in southern and eastern regions (€9 million) and enhancing nutrition of 400,000 women and children in northeastern Sudan (€8 million).

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