Sunday

19th Nov 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

UN criticises EU policy in Libya as 'inhuman'

The EU's policy of helping the Libyan coast guard to return people plucked from the sea is "inhuman", says the UN's human rights chief, given that most end up in dire conditions.

News in Brief

  1. Bonn climate talks extend into Friday evening
  2. UK needs to move on Brexit by early December, Tusk says
  3. Puigdemont extradition decision postponed to December
  4. Ireland wants written UK guarantees to avoid hard border
  5. US did not obstruct climate talks, says German minister
  6. EU signs social declaration
  7. Puigdemont to be heard by Belgian judges
  8. Steep fall in migrants reaching EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  2. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  4. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  5. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  6. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  9. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  10. World Vision20 November: Exchange of Views at the EP on Children Affected by the Syria Crisis
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future
  12. EU2017EEHow Data Fuels Estonia's Economy

Latest News

  1. EU keeps former Soviet states at arm's length
  2. EU leaders make pledge on social issues after populist backlash
  3. EU agencies and eastern neighbours This WEEK
  4. Germany slams Dutch call for more ambitious EU climate goal
  5. Mind the gap: inequality in our cities
  6. Climate activists 'disappointed' with EU at climate talks
  7. Davis outlines UK vision on Brexit in Berlin
  8. German coalition talks in near collapse

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Step Up Water Management Cooperation
  2. CECEMachinery Industry Calls for Joint EU Approach to Develop Digital Construction Sector
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersMale Business Leaders Gather in Copenhagen to Advance Gender Equality
  4. EnelNo ETS Deal Means It Can Still Be Strengthened
  5. EU2017EEEstonia Anticipates More Digital Cooperation With Sweden
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina Launches Campaign to Protect IPR of Foreign Companies
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Condemns Attacks on Ruta Vanagaite and the Shredding of Her Books in Lithuania
  8. Bio-Based IndustriesDiscover the Future of the Bio-Based Economy. Register Now for the BBI Stakeholder Forum!
  9. European Free AllianceWelcome Catalonia!
  10. UNICEFGrowing Number of Unaccompanied Refugee Children in Greece in Need of Shelter
  11. Counter BalanceNature Destruction Cannot Be Compensated For, Say NGOs
  12. CES - Silicones EuropeSilicones - Enabling the Next Big Leap in Prosthetics and Health