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East Africa: Sudan and Eritrea Crackdown On Migrants Amid Reports of EU Incentives – IRIN

By Kristy Siegfried Oxford — Authorities in Sudan have launched a crackdown on Eritrean migrants - arresting those living in the capital, Khartoum, and intercepting hundreds travelling north through the country towards Libya, the launching point

Oxford — Authorities in Sudan have launched a crackdown on Eritrean migrants – arresting those living in the capital, Khartoum, and intercepting hundreds travelling north through the country towards Libya, the launching point for smugglers’ boats heading for Europe.

Reports that 900 Eritreans were rounded up in Khartoum on Monday and that a further 400 arrested en route to Libya have been deported to Eritrea, come amid recent revelations in the British and German media that the EU is planning to deepen its cooperation with a number of African countries, including Sudan and Eritrea, to stem migration towards Europe.

Kibrom*, a 16-year-old Eritrean refugee who used the route through Sudan and Libya to reach Europe in 2015, told IRIN that his twin sister was among a group of 130 Eritreans captured by Sudanese soldiers in the town of Dongola, about halfway between Khartoum and the Libyan border, earlier this month.

“I passed the same way. When we were travelling, we had to bribe the police. My sister used the same smuggler, but when he tried to bribe the police, it didn’t work,” he said.

Kibrom’s sister, along with the rest of the group, were taken to a prison in Khartoum where they spent three days. Kibron said he tried to alert the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, but failed to make contact.

“Only the Eritrean Embassy was informed. They took them in an open truck at night time to the Eritrean border,” he said. “From there they were taken to a prison located in my city – Teseney.”

Leaving Eritrea without permission is a criminal offense and Kibrom is extremely concerned about his sister, who was trying to evade military conscription, as well as his mother and two younger brothers who are still living in Teseney.

“My mother can’t even try to see my sister or she will be arrested as well,” he told IRIN over the phone from Sweden where he has applied for asylum. “I’m so worried what’s going to happen to them.”

A spokesperson with UNHCR’s office in Khartoum confirmed that a number of migrants, including Eritreans, had been intercepted in northern Sudan heading towards the Libyan border. Of those being held at the Aliens Detention Centre in Khartoum, UNHCR had only identified six individuals who had previously sought asylum and been recognized as refugees.

None of those six had been deported and the spokesperson did not comment on the other deportations but said: “If an individual does not apply for asylum through the channels provided and subsequently does not express a wish to seek asylum, Sudan may be within its legal right to pursue deportation of irregular migrants from its territory.

“For UNHCR, the principle prohibiting forcible returns or non-refoulement only takes centre stage when the affected individuals are persons of concern to UNHCR, which does not appear to be the case in this particular instance.”

It is unclear whether UNHCR had access to all of the Eritreans detained in Khartoum prior to their deportation. Meron Estefanos, an Eritrean activist based in Sweden who has been in touch with the relatives of some of the deportees, told IRIN that another group of around 300 Eritreans arrested while making their way to Libya were deported last Friday.

Sudan has a prior record of deporting Eritreans without allowing them access to asylum procedures, a practice that UNHCR has condemned in the past as amounting to refoulement.

Increased border controls

In addition to the arrests of migrants in Sudan, Estefanos said there has also been a noticeable increase in controls on the Eritrean side of the Sudan-Eritrea border in the last two months. “Leaving Eritrea to Sudan is becoming hard now,” she told IRIN. “People are being intercepted and sent back.”

Last year, a UN inquiry found evidence that Eritrea is a totalitarian state responsible for “systemic, widespread and gross human rights violations” including a system of indefinite national service that amounts to forced labour.

Eritrean soldiers are instructed to shoot at anyone they discover trying to leave the country illegally, a policy that hasn’t prevented thousands from fleeing across the border every month. While the majority of Eritreans remain in camps in Sudan and Ethiopia, over 70,000 applied for asylum in Europe during 2014 and 2015, according to EuroStat figures.

Last week, Der Spiegel and the New Statesman reported on a leaked plan to increase cooperation with African countries of origin and transit for migrants. The articles alleged that the EU plans to use funding from the recently launched Emergency Trust Fund for Africa to send equipment and vehicles to help Sudan police its border with Eritrea and to assist with the construction of two closed reception centres in Gadaref and Kassala. Eritrea would be given assistance to develop or implement human trafficking regulations.

A spokesperson with the EU’s Office for International Cooperation and Development, said the reports were inaccurate and that there are currently no plans to provide equipment to the Sudanese government, or to help them build reception centres.

“Any decision to provide civilian equipment will be taken on the basis of a forthcoming appraisal mission to Sudan from the EU,” she said, adding that any future donation of equipment would comply with EU sanctions against Sudan, which include a ban on the provision of services related to military activities.

“The activities related to Sudan are part of a broader regional project in the Horn of Africa, worth EUR 40 million, financed under the EU Trust Fund for Africa and designed to improve migration management,” said the spokesperson, noting that the main objective was to cooperate on fighting trafficking and smuggling.

“No funding will be channelled through the beneficiary countries’ government structures.”

Review overview
  • kerenlaelay May 26, 2016

    EU,is doing bad game this is immoral to help dictator to deport Eritrean to the most cruel dictator in Africa.

  • Hamid Sorobeti May 26, 2016

    The corrupted seurity officers of Bashir are committing tremendous crimes against our helpless bothers and sisters before handing them to the security agents of DIA. In a ountry like sudan where the dictatorial regime of Bashir spoiled the good human values that the Sudanese claim once they owned became very risky to live so coming to sudan is not a good option currently.
    May the creator help Eritreans to get rid of this bloodthirsty bandits

  • DEATH in VAIN May 26, 2016

    Dearest Keren Lailay & Hamid Sorobety ,

    I share your pain ,our people are suffering ,Europeans and of course my adopting country have looked for relative stability in that part of Africa ,as many times the cure is worse than the illness. I am no fan of Papa Isaias ,but can you imagine if the disorganized opposition replace Higdef ,and people are angry at each other ,at the people that have been persecuting them ,destroying the whole family…civilians will not be as civilized as before ,now the culture and compassion are out the window..And I am tired of hearing our ppl will not do that ..Yes ,our people are selling eachother ,hating each other by region, and supporting the dictator some times due to innocent intentions and more than seldom due to our son ,Papa Isaias from our region..It is ok to wish the elimination of the dictator ,but what comes maybe hutu tutsi mild, although I hope not.

    • quiky May 27, 2016

      So what is your solution? Leave wedi medhn berad alone and let the people leave the country in thousands as they doing is not going solve anything, as it happens this move by albeshir is not bad thing as it will encourage people to stay and face the music. Running from your problems doesn’t make it go. You need the same courage and zeal of the founding fathers of Eritrea-the 1940/50th generation.

      • DEATH in VAIN May 27, 2016

        Dearest Quicky ,

        I have no workable solution for the Israel- Palestine either ,but that does not stop me from evaluating the vicious circle .Maybe there is no realistic solution..I can bring 2-3 theoretical solutions ,but considering the situation ,I do not see solution.

  • Gobo May 26, 2016

    Wawa wiwa!
    This is how our beloved Arab “cousins” show their love to the Eritreans from the “mountains”. Lucky to have Arab brothers like Sudan, Egypt and Libya.
    Thank you my Arab cousins or is it not?
    The other day some liar was boasting here to adopt “Sudanese” citizenship while his entire family was hiding in America.
    Issaias was insulting all day in his May 24th speech to America, while all his brothers and sisters are American citizens.

  • Ghent o/gbaselasse May 26, 2016

    I have cotiion to sudan governmet mony is beter than eritrean sosaity ? This darck time it is going pass .all the dicteitors they will foll to the peoples rul & low enclud omar all bashir then eritrean and sidanis people they will came together. Stop deporting aure .people. If you whont to control the border go chek araund shegerab what hapening to aure people sinai is the witness.sleivory is stil exist ln sudan end eritrea cheinge is caming to east afrika

  • Simon G. May 26, 2016

    My take on this.
    1. Sudanese people are some of the nicest people on the planet. However, their govt is one of the most corrupted and unreliable. This has been the case for many years.
    2. Let’s forget about the human rights preach by the Europeans. They exactly know what they are doing and they purposely enabling both the Eritrean and Sudanese dictators. Why? Because it is cheaper for them and they don’t give a damn about black Africans. So, it is cheaper for them to pay of these 2 criminals and turn their back on the basic human rights.
    3. Both Isayas and Beshir do not give a damn about Eritreans. These guys have killed many people before and whats few more thousands to them. Nothing at all.
    4. Why isn’t the Hague ICC doesn’t object to its EU’s aid to these 2 criminals? Well, read #2.
    5. Where are the Eritrean Human Right’s group on this? Well, they are just the same Eritreans as any individuals. They don’t even talk to each other.
    6. Where are those toothless opposition parties? Well, are they still alive? I don’t think so. If they do, where are they?
    7. Now, you may ask me what I am doing? Unfortunately, simply nothing, beside complaining here at this fine forum.
    Has anyone watch one of the Seinfeld’s episode, about Nothing? Well, it summarizes about our situation. Sad but true.

    N.B. This doesn’t include to very few with very high caliber mind and big heart. You know who you are.

  • DEATH in VAIN May 27, 2016

    ምናልባሽ እዞም “ደለይቲ ፍትሒ” ጓይላ ህግደፍ ክንቃወም ቦሎኛ ክንከይድ ከለና እግረ መገድና ነዞም ኣብ ሲናይ ዝዕመጹ ዘለዉን ካብ ሱዳን ዚዱፐርተሩ/deported ዘለዉን ኡይ ንብለሎም ንኸውን።
    ወደን ከይሓምያስ ሰይቲ ወደን ይብሉ ዓድና፣ንሕና ዘይሓመምናሎምሲ ሱዳን ክትሓመሎም ተጸቢናን ፣ሽምጣትና ገቲርና ሱዳን ጽባሕ ክወግሕ እዩ ክንብል፣ ባዕሉ ዝወግሕ እንተኾይኑስ ንርእዮ!
    እቶም ጨቆንትና ኢትዮጵያውያን ክቕበልዎም ተስፋ ንገብር።

  • Berhe Tensea May 27, 2016

    Both Sudan and Eritrea are governed by corrupt dictators, and would do anything to get free money from the EU.
    Eritreans have continued to flee to Sudan for decades, now days they are braving the harsh seas and deserts than confront their worst enemy and the main cause of their sad predicament.
    It is very hard to believe that people who gambled with their own life to reach Europe then show up in PFDJ ghailan Dankeran.
    World wide secret organization has been formed in North America and is working with other justice seekers in Europe and Israel to identify PFDJ loving refugees for deportation to Eritrea.
    There will be no mercy for those who are creating obstacles and taking the chances away from genuine
    Death and agony to PFDJ puppet refugees.