Sudan urges more migrant support

2015-11-11 16:58
Eritrean refugees speak with one another at the Shire refugee camp in Ethiopia. (Vincent Defait, AFP)

Eritrean refugees speak with one another at the Shire refugee camp in Ethiopia. (Vincent Defait, AFP)

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Khartoum - A senior Sudanese official on Wednesday called for more international support to check human trafficking and migration across Sudan's borders towards Europe, as EU and African leaders met in Malta to discuss the migration crisis.

Many Eritreans and Ethiopians who make the perilous crossing to Europe across the Mediterranean enter eastern Sudan before travelling on.

"Sudan needs more support to face these challenges, particularly tackling human trafficking and smuggling", said Hamad Elgizouli, the government commissioner for refugees.

He spoke to AFP as European leaders met their African counterparts in Valletta for a two-day conference to decide on joint action on the migration crisis.

They plan to offer up to €3.6bn in aid in exchange for help dealing with the migration crisis facing Europe.

Elgizouli said he hoped "Sudan gets a part of this support to tackle this phenomenon that has become a major concern".

There are 86 500 Eritreans in eastern Sudan, of whom 75 800 live in camps run by Sudan's Commission of Refugees with support from the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), the UN says.

Conditions in the camps in eastern Sudan have deteriorated in recent years, Elgizouli said, urging the EU to boost funding to improve conditions for refugees and asylum seekers in the area to discourage them from travelling on to Europe.

"Services offered to refugees are not as they were in the past, the services have been reduced in all fields, particularly nutrition," he said.

60 to 70 a day

Last month, the EU representative in Khartoum also called for greater cooperation to halt human trafficking, saying the EU has already provided some €79.5m for development in impoverished eastern Sudan since 2011.

The UNHCR says some 1 100 refugees arrive in eastern Sudan monthly, mostly Eritreans, estimating that some 80% of these intend to make the onward journey to Europe.

But Elgizouli said the figure was higher, with some 60 to 70 refugees entering eastern Sudan daily.

Eritreans make up the third-largest number of those making the crossing to Europe, after Syrians and Afghans.

A report in June from the UN human rights office described widespread "gross human rights violations" in Eritrea, including mass incarceration of political opponents, extra-judicial killings and torture.

The Eritrean government dismissed the report.

Read more on:    sudan  |  eritrea  |  east africa  |  migrants

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