UK-EU: Brexit doesn't mean Brexit for migration control initiatives: UK to stay on Khartoum Process steering committee

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Brexit doesn't mean Brexit for migration control initiatives: UK to stay on Khartoum Process steering committee
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Despite the UK's foreseen departure from the EU in March 2019 it plans to remain on the steering committee of the Khartoum Process, an EU-funded migration control initiative that involves partnerships with dictatorships such as Egypt, Eritrea and Sudan.

The decision to remain on the steering committee is noted in a February 2017 report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Sudan and South Sudan:

"Sudan is recognised as a source, transit and destination country for refugees in a complex migratory picture. Long-term Eritrean and Ethiopian migrants in Eastern Sudan are emigrating alongside new generations seeking to take the Central Mediterranean route to Europe. Civil wars and insecurity in Darfur and the Two Areas, paired with political repression internally, are pushing many Sudanese to join them.


Europe’s answer to these migratory pressures is the EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative, also known as the Khartoum Process. It was launched in November 2014 as a forum for political dialogue and cooperation on migration between EU Member States and several countries from the Horn and Eastern Africa, including Sudan. The Khartoum Process is an initiative of DG-HOME and Italy, with the UK chairing the Process until December 2016. The UK Government has confirmed in answers to parliamentary questions that its membership of the steering committee of the Khartoum Process will not change as a result of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU." [emphasis added]

See: All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sudan: Engagement Beyond the Centre: An Inquiry Report on the Future of UK-Sudan Relations(pdf)

An April 2017 report highlighted how EU support for Sudanese "security and law enforcement agencies, including a paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF)," involves assisting:

"the RSF and other relevant agencies with the construction of two camps with detention facilities for migrants. The EU will also equip these Sudanese border forces with cameras, scanners, and electronic servers for registering refugees... Sudan’s strategy for stopping migrant flows on behalf of Europe involves a ruthless crackdown by the RSF on migrants within Sudan."

See: Border Control from Hell: How the EU’s migration partnership legitimizes Sudan’s “militia state” (Enough, link)

The APPG report notes that submissions to the committee:

"were uniformly critical of the Khartoum Process as a policy response to migration flows from and through Sudan. Deemed likely to be ineffective in tackling migration and highly damaging to the EU’s reputation as a human rights standard-bearer, witnesses argued that the Khartoum Process requires significant reform if it is to be fit for purpose."

The report recommends that:

"The UK must ensure that human rights are fully respected in the Khartoum Process initiative by pushing for rigorous end-user accountability provisions, and by ensuring that the implementation process is transparent and open to scrutiny."

It is unclear how this will happen when the same report also makes clear that the government of Sudan:

"is heavily implicated in the drivers of migration from Sudan. Years of violent conflict targeting civilians in the peripheries, internal political repression, economic mismanagement, widening inequality, and corruption have forced many Sudanese to seek refuge abroad and have fostered networks of smugglers and traffickers. Regional migrants travelling through Sudan are subject to work restrictions, forcing many to work illegally in Khartoum to fund their onward journey. The UK Government acknowledged this in evidence, and the EU has done so publicly. The Khartoum Process therefore aims to “address the root causes of irregular migration” through building the capacity of the state that has itself created many of these problems." [emphasis added]

The content of the APPG report was recently highlighted on Twitter by Zoe Gardner (link).

Further reading

EU looks to African dictators for migration solutions(Statewatch News Online, December 2014)

EU-Africa: The 'Khartoum Process': beefing up borders in east Africa (Statewatch News Online, October 2015)

EU: New proposals on migration: "partnerships" with third countries, Blue Card reform, integration plan (Statewatch News Online, June 2016)

EU: Beyond the borders: overview of "external migration dialogues and processes" (Statewatch News Online, August 2016)

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