September 6, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - The European Union (EU) has denied providing any support to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) acknowledging support for Sudan’s efforts to combat illegal migration and human trafficking.
- Fighters from the Rapid Support Forces sit in an armed vehicle in Nyala, south Darfur, displaying weapons they say they captured from the Justice and Equality Movement rebels on May 13, 2015 (AFP Photo/Ashraf Shazly)
The RSF, which is widely known as the Janjaweed militias, were originally mobilized by the Sudanese government to quell the insurgency that broke out in Sudan’s western region of Darfur in 2003.
The militia was reactivated and restructured again in August 2013 under the command of NISS to fight the alliance of rebel groups from Darfur region, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states following joint attacks in North and South Kordofan in April 2013.
RSF Commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, (aka Hametti) last week said his forces lost about 150 vehicles in patrolling Sudan’s border with Egypt and Libya, stressing that Sudan is fighting illegal migration on behalf of Europe.
On Friday, the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) secretary general Yasser Arman said they received accurate information about a plan named “Khartoum Operation” to fund the RSF from the EU money and particularly from Germany besides providing it with logistical support from Italy.
Last May, Sudan organized the “Khartoum Operation” meeting to combat human trafficking with the participation of 65 persons representing European and African countries besides several United Nations agencies and organizations operating in the field of migration and refugees.
Arman stressed the implementation of the plan began since three months ago, saying it allows the RSF protect the border under the pretext of combating illegal migration to Europe besides stopping human trafficking and fighting against terrorism.
“The plan aims to link these forces [RSF] with Europe’s interests and to stop [illegal] migration and with (Khartoum Operation) project to stop human trafficking. [it seeks] to confer these forces with an international character to cover up genocide and the killings [campaigns] it carried out against Sudanese civilians with an European and international cover” he said.
He described the Khartoum Operation as the “Satanic Plan”, saying its implementation has gone along way particularly with regard to marketing it via media outlets.
However, in a press release extended to Sudan Tribune on Tuesday the EU denied funding the RSF, saying it assists the Sudanese government as part of promoting efforts of African countries to combat illegal migration.
“The EU commitment to enhance cooperation with African countries on migration is firmly anchored within International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law. The EU’s assistance to Sudan is delivered at bilateral and regional levels through international agencies and NGOs, not through the Sudanese Government. No support has never been provided to the Rapid Support Forces,” said the EU.
The EU said it cooperates with the Sudanese government on projects to tackle the root causes of migration, pointing these “ projects contribute to improving livelihoods, stimulating youth employment, and supporting basic services for refugees, the displaced, and host communities”.
“At the regional level, EU cooperation is helping to build capacity to prevent trafficking and smuggling of human beings, to enhance international protection of victims of criminal networks, to raise awareness about the perils of irregular migration, and to increase opportunities for labour migration,” read the press release.
Earlier this year, the EU granted a €100m development package to address the root causes of irregular migration in Sudan. The financial support came after pledge by the Sudanese government to cooperate with Brussels to stop human trafficking to Europe.
Also, in June 2014 the US Department of State hailed Sudan’s efforts in containing and fighting against human trafficking.
SUDAN’S PEACE TALKS
Meanwhile, the EU repeated its call on the Sudanese government, political opposition and the armed groups “to demonstrate the leadership necessary to end the conflicts in Sudan, finalise the Cessation of Hostilities agreements and move towards a process of dialogue as a basis for lasting peace in their country”.
The Sudanese army has been fighting SPLM-N rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states since 2011 and the armed movements in Darfur since 2003.
Last month, the African mediation suspended the latest round of talks between the government and the rebel movements on Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile after the negotiating parties failed to reach agreement on the security arrangements and humanitarian access.
Peace talks are expected to resume in the second week of September.