Wednesday

28th Feb 2024

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

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

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.

Opinion

Ukraine refugees want to return home — but how?

Fewer than one-in-ten Ukrainian refugees intend to settle permanently outside Ukraine, according to new research by the associate director of research and the director of gender and economic inclusion at the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.

Latest News

  1. EU supply chain law fails, with 14 states failing to back it
  2. Joined-up EU defence procurement on the horizon?
  3. Macron on Western boots in Ukraine: What he really meant
  4. Amazon lobbyists banned from EU Parliament
  5. MEPs adopt new transparency rules for political ads
  6. EU nature restoration law approved after massive backlash
  7. Memo from Munich — EU needs to reinvent democracy support
  8. For Ukraine's sake, pass the EU due diligence directive

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us