Border Control from Hell: How the EU’s migration partnership legitimizes Sudan’s “militia state”
The Enough Project | April 5, 2017 [by Suliman Baldo]
Today, the Enough Project released a new report, “Border Control from Hell: How the EU’s Migration Partnership Legitimizes Sudan’s “Militia State.” This report, authored by Senior Advisor Suliman Baldo, details how the European Union’s (EU) partnership with the Sudanese regime as part of a migration management program strengthens the capacities of the country’s security and law enforcement agencies, including the notorious Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
The RSF is a paramilitary group, now branded a ‘border force,’ that has its origins in the Janjaweed militia that carried out the genocidal counterinsurgency policy of the Sudanese regime in Darfur that began in 2003. In recent years, the RSF has been transformed, re-armed, and re-branded by the government, from this genocidal militia deployed in Sudan’s Darfur region, into a national counterinsurgency force under the command of the country’s notoriously abusive intelligence services and was more recently integrated into Sudan’s national army, with direct command line to the presidency.
In the last few years, Europe has witnessed a large-scale influx of migrants from many countries, including those in the Horn of Africa. This massive migration has created a paradigm shift in the ties between the EU and the government of Sudan, drawing both entities closer. Within this partnership, the EU will assist the RSF and other relevant agencies with the construction of two camps with detention facilities for migrants. The EU has disbursed millions of euros to the Sudanese government for technical equipment and training. This funding, in theory, is geared toward stemming the flow of migrants to Europe from Sudan and the Horn of Africa, as well as migrants from countries in sub-Saharan Africa who transit through Sudan.
However, the report notes that Sudan’s strategy for stopping migrant flows on behalf of Europe involves a ruthless crackdown by the RSF on migrants within Sudan. By extending material and technical support to the Khartoum regime, the EU risks not only supporting the RSF but also underwriting Sudan’s “militia state” and an elaborate web of corruption linked to atrocities and human rights abuse.
“The EU’s ‘Better Migration Management’ program in current form will subsidize one of Sudan’s most dreaded militias, one with a trail of atrocity crimes spanning the country. Equally damaging, it will legitimize an entire militia system that sustains Khartoum’s abusive regime.” – Suliman Baldo, report author and Senior Advisor at the Enough Project
The report also argues that through this assistance to a government that deploys a militia group that stokes violent conflict, commits atrocities, and creates massive displacement of populations within Sudan, the EU contradicts and undermines the basis of its own founding treaty and the broader objectives of advancing peace and human rights. Baldo notes that the EU and the EU member states that are most engaged with Sudan in the actual programmatic partnership on migration flows should scrutinize the record and conduct of the RSF as the partnership unfolds.
“The EU’s effort to stem irregular migration at the source should not come at the cost of gross violations of the human rights of migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees in Sudan.” – Suliman Baldo.