The EU has suspended its migration control projects in Sudan amid fears that it may have aided violent security forces in the country responsible for repressing peaceful protesters.
An EU spokesperson has confirmed to German news site DW that a German-led project that organizes the provision of training and equipment to Sudanese border guards and police was "halted" in mid-March, while an EU-funded intelligence center in the capital, Khartoum, has been "on hold" since June. These initiatives were paid for from a €4.5bn EU fund for measures in Africa to control migration and address its root causes. The EU made no public announcements at the time.
There were concerns that working with the Sudanese government on border management could embolden repressive state forces. Critics were especially concerned about the notorious Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia which is accused by Amnesty International of war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region. An EU summary of the project noted that there was a risk that resources could be "diverted for repressive aims."
Since a wave of protests swept the country in December seeking the removal of then president Omar al-Bashir and the formation of a civilian government, various incidents of repression have occurred with the militia blamed for a massacre on June 3 in which 128 protesters were reportedly killed. The EU maintains that it has provided neither funding nor equipment to the RSF. However, the Sudanese police, who also stand accused of brutally repressing the protests, received training under the EU programs.
Dr. Lutz Oette, a human rights expert at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), went on the record with DW saying, "The suspension is the logical outcome of the change in circumstances but it exposes the flawed assumptions of the process as far as working with Sudan is concerned. Continuing to work with the Sudanese government would have been incompatible with the European Union's positions on human rights, and counterproductive to the goal of tackling the root causes of migration."
Header Image Credit: The Independent