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UNHCR to fund efforts to combat human trafficking in Sudan

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March 1, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government has announced that it received financial assistance from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to be allocated among the police and other regular forces to combat human trafficking in eastern Sudan.

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Refugees wait to be registered at Shagarab refugee camp in eastern Sudan, often the first point of entry for Eritreans fleeing oppression in their homeland (UNHCR)

The state’s minister at the ministry of interior, Babiker Ahmed Digna, disclosed measures for controlling refugee camps, revealing security coordination among Sudan, Ethiopia, and Eritrea to fight against human trafficking.

He said Sudan asked at the border conference which was held in Morocco for support to its efforts to fight human trafficking, saying the United Kingdom and several European countries have responded positively because Sudan is considered a passage country for refugees heading to Europe.

Digna mentioned that human trafficking law has curbed the phenomenon because it contained deterrent penalties including the capital punishment.

In July 2013, the Sudanese cabinet endorsed a draft bill on combating human trafficking in line with previous government pledges to tackle the issue.

The law details human trafficking offenses and penalties while specifying measures aimed at protecting victims and witnesses and maintaining information confidentiality.

The Sudanese official added that refugees in the camps have been divided into small groups and leaders were assigned for each group to monitor entry, exit, and absence in order to control presence inside each camp.

Digna said they asked the UNHCR to establish a new camp to receive new refugees so as not to mingle with old ones and hence fall prey for intimidation or persuasion acts aiming to force them to leave the camp.

The governor of Kassala state, Mohamed Youssef Adam, had previously demanded the UN agencies to cooperate with Sudan in fighting against international human trafficking gangs active in the border between Sudan and Eritrea, saying Sudan and its neighbors have deeply suffered from this inhumane practice.

The governor, who addressed a crowed in the border area of Hamadaiet in the locality of Wad Al-hilaio in the occasion of declaring it mines-free area, stressed Sudan is still receiving refugees from neighboring countries, demanding the ministry of interior to apply the automated screening on the refugees in areas between Hamadaiet and Gargaf before admitting them to Al-Shagarab camp.

Sudan Refugees Commission said last year the country hosts around 500.000 refugees from the horn of Africa countries most of them from Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia as well as refugees from other African countries living in Darfur region.

The US state department’s 2012 report on human trafficking identifies Sudan as a "source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking".

"The Government of Sudan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. While the government took some initial steps during the reporting period to acknowledge the existence of trafficking, draft anti-trafficking legislation, prosecute suspected traffickers, demobilize and reintegrate child soldiers, and waive overstay fines for foreign domestic workers, its efforts to combat human trafficking through law enforcement, protection, or prevention measures were undertaken in an ad hoc fashion, rather than as the result of strategic planning" the report said.

The US called on Khartoum to "enact a comprehensive legal regime to define and address human trafficking crimes and harmonize various existing legal statutes; increase efforts to investigate suspected human trafficking cases, increase prosecution of trafficking offenses, and convict and punish trafficking offenders".

Eastern Sudan in particular is believed to be serving as a passage to migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia who seek to reach Europe with the help of human smugglers.

(ST)

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