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US anti-human trafficking delegation visits eastern Sudan

December 6 - 2015 KASSALA
Eritrean asylum seekers in an eastern Sudanese camp (file photo)
Eritrean asylum seekers in an eastern Sudanese camp (file photo)

A delegation of the US Embassy in Khartoum and the National Committee for Combating Human Trafficking visited Kassala in eastern Sudan on Friday. According to a Red Sea state activist, the fight between government forces and gunmen near Kassala airport last Tuesday “was just an attempt by the government in Khartoum to show its seriousness in fighting the phenomenon”.

The Governor of Kassala, Adam Jammaa, told reporters upon receiving the delegation that the visit is part of a study on the ways to combat human trafficking in the region. He said that a committee of security officers and native administration leaders has been established for this purpose.

Ismail Omar Terab, member of the National Committee for Combating Human Trafficking, stated at the press conference that the visit came in response to the US State Department’s desire to provide a special report on Sudan’s efforts in the fight against human trafficking.

Officials involved’

Kassala locality is widely known as a crossing point for refugees from Eritrea and Ethiopia and as a hotspot for human trafficking. The refugees are abducted and ‘sold’ to criminal gangs who subject them to torture in order to pressure their relatives to pay large sums of money for their release.

The kidnapping and trafficking of refugees and Sudanese in the eastern parts of the country increased significantly this year. International organisations earlier referred to the involvement of Sudanese army and security officials in the human trafficking.

Hamed Idris, former member of the Red Sea state parliament, confirmed the involvement of police officers and agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) to Radio Dabanga last month, when he commented on a charter signed by the eastern Sudanese Presidential Aide, representatives of state departments and native and religious leaders in the region to put an end to human trafficking.

“Corruption is rampant in eastern Sudan,” he stated. “It will take a much broader campaign then the one initiated by the presidential aide, to successfully combat human trafficking. All government institutions and personnel need to be screened.”

A show’

Idris told Radio Dabanga on Friday that one gunman was killed and three others were wounded and detained in a clash between a human trafficking gang and security forces near Kassala airport on Tuesday.

He said that the fight was only a show to confirm Khartoum’s seriousness in combating human trafficking. “Many NISS officers are in fact cooperating with those gangs.”

Preventing migration to Europe

In attempts to prevent mass migration to Europe, Germany and the UK have also had talks with Khartoum recently.

The German international aid agency signed an agreement with the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Horn of Africa Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on Wednesday to combat illegal immigration of Africans across Sudan to Europe. Implementation of the plan will begin with a €2 million project in Kassala.

“Germany will not let Sudan face the burden of refugees all by itself and will continue to support projects aimed at curbing the asylum problem,” the German agency’s coordinator for East Africa said. “The refugee problem needs thorough examination, particularly if we consider the economic and security problems this vast number of refugees poses on the Continent.”

On Wednesday too, the director of migration at the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the representative to the Horn of Africa for the National Crime Agency, discussed with the Sudanese Under-Secretary of Foreign Affairs, opportunities for cooperation in the immigration and police domains. 

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