Saturday

16th Nov 2019

EU-Africa talks pose questions on aid and security

Later this week in Brussels, EU leaders will be discussing forthcoming deals with a handful of African states.

With repressive regimes like Sudan demanding that the EU finance border controls, leaders appear increasingly willing to do almost anything to stop people from crossing the Mediterranean to reach Italy.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

Last November, Sudan’s foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour said the EU should help pay to keep migrants from crossing its borders into Libya and Egypt.

A few months later, it sent the EU commission a wish list of demands.

Sudan requested the EU pay for "computers, cameras, scanners, servers, cars, aircraft" at 17 crossing points along its borders under a programme that is part financed by the European Development Fund.

"In principle yes but aircraft unlikely," responded the commission, in a document that can be found on the commission's website.

Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity.

The country's crossing points are also patrolled by the notorious Sudanese government militia, the Rapid Support Force (RSF).

The RSF, which is also part of Sudan's national and intelligence security services, includes men who fought in Darfur with the Janjaweed, a militia of Sudanese Arab tribes that is now part of the RSF.

Mohamed Hamdan, a warlord often referred to as Hametti, commands the RSF.

In August, he said his forces had arrested 20,000 migrants in the company of human traffickers near the border with Libya.

The traffickers had confiscated some of his weapons and vehicles, he said. Hametti then demanded the EU replace them.

"We are hard at work to aid Europe in containing the flow of migrants, and if our valuable efforts are not well appreciated, we will open the desert to migrants," he warned.

The EU commission quickly issued a statement denying it had offered the RSF any help to begin with.

No direct financial support

The official line from the commission is that it does not give any "direct financial support" to governments like Sudan.

But it can, if it so chooses, provide "technical assistance" and "equipment" to customs and police bodies in repressive states like Sudan under a 2014 programme known as the Khartoum Process.

The programme is financed from a variety of sources, including the European Development Fund regional programme for East Africa.

An EU official said none of the requests by Sudan have been met but would not entirely rule out the possibility either.

The demands were made as part of a broader €40 million package under the so-called European Union Africa Trust Fund.

European Parliament resolution

Sudan is steeped in blood.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled, with over 3 million displaced internally, given ongoing conflicts like in Darfur.

Earlier this month, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning Sudan for widespread human rights abuse.

The list of accusations includes chemical weapon attacks on civilians, extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, and harsh crackdowns on any opposition.

Given the abuses, the EU parliament asked the commission to monitor its development assistance in Sudan so as not to provide "any direct or indirect support to local militias".

But with close to 150,000 people having left the north Africa coast to reach Italy so far this year alone, policy makers are under intense pressure to sort deals with the regimes to slow the flows and crack down on smugglers.

In 2015, EU said it was prepared to "use all policies and tools" to develop a new approach to migration in Africa.

€100 million aid package

A year later in April, EU development commissioner Neven Mimica went to Sudan, met its ministry of interior, and then announced a €100 million aid package for the country.

"Development and security go hand in hand," he later said.

An activist in Sudan, who asked not to be name, told EUobserver in July that the EU's engagement with the regime is only making life more difficult.

"It's not adding to the development in anyway, it's not going to change the economic situation because there is a high rate of corruption in the country," noted the contact.

The UK-based NGO Saferworld made similar comments in August.

"The EU is in essence providing these repressive regimes with a cloak of international legitimacy at a time when more scrutiny on their domestic policies is needed," wrote Kloe Tricot O'Farrell, the NGO's EU advocacy officer.

EU seeks migration deal with African states

Focus on migration is shifting towards stopping flows from Africa with plans to cut deals with handful of origin countries before the end of the year.

EU development aid to finance armies in Africa

The EU commission proposes to start financing militaries to help "partner countries in their development" as part of a larger policiy to stop migration to Europe.

Focus

Nordic soldiers advised to study French

Nordic troops ought to learn French to better contribute to UN peace missions in future, security experts and politicians have been told.

News in Brief

  1. Catalan politicians extradition hearing postponed
  2. Germany: EU banking union deal possible in December
  3. EIB: no more funding of fossil-fuel projects
  4. UK defence chief: Russia could trigger World War III
  5. Hungary's Varhelyi will face more questions
  6. Police put former Berlusconi MEP Comi under house arrest
  7. MEPs criticise Poland for criminalising sex education
  8. UK will not name new commissioner before election

Opinion

Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life'

As ex-national leaders, we know it's not easy to withstand public pressures and put collective interests ahead of domestic concerns. But without strong institutional leadership, EU values themselves risk ringing hollow, not least to those seeking protection on Europe's shores.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. Key moments for new commission This WEEK
  2. EU threatens legal action against UK over commissioner
  3. Corruption in the Balkans: the elephant in the room
  4. Green MEPs unconvinced by Romanian commissioner
  5. EU states fell short on sharing refugees, say auditors
  6. Hungary's commissioner-to-be grilled over loyalty to Orban
  7. Widow's plea as EU diplomats debate Magnitsky Act
  8. Leftist MEPs call on EU to address crisis in Chile

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us