What is the Khartoum Process

Khartoum process

by Wasil Schauseil from: The fight against the causes of flight, in: Graswurzelrevolution No. 441, October 2019

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Externalizing EU Borders in the Horn of Africa: The Khartoum Deal

The countries in the Horn of Africa are at the center of European migration strategies. Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia in particular are considered to be the main countries of origin or transit for migrants who try to find their way to Europe via Egypt or Libya, with the focus being on Sudan due to its central location. In November 2014, 58 heads of government from the European and African continents met in the Sudanese capital Khartoum to plan what would be done in terms of migration management through the Rabat process for the East African mainland 1The Rabat process (named after the capital of Morocco) describes the ongoing cooperation between more than sixty European and North, West and Central African countries for better "migration management" between the African and European continents. The Rabat process was initiated in 2006 by the International Center for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD). for West Africa and has recently been enforced on the Mediterranean with the Libyan unity government. Official documents speak of “cooperation at bilateral and regional level”, the strengthening of “horizontal coordination among all services” and “capacity building” to combat irregular migration and human trafficking. 2https://www.khartoumprocess.net/resources/library/political-declaration/60-khartoum-process-declaration

Financed by the EU and implemented by the International Center for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) and national partner organizations such as the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), the establishment of a joint police academy in Egypt was agreed, the networking of intelligence information (" SKIRT"3https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/22/world/africa/migration-european-union-sudan.html), the construction of two detention centers with detention centers in Sudan, as well as the training and equipment of Sudanese border guards.4Border Control From Hell: How the EU's migration partnership legitimizes Sudan's “militia state”, Suliman Baldo The paramilitary units of the Janjaweed responsible for the genocide in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan, from which in 2013 the aforementioned Rapid also benefited Support Forces (RSF) were formed and officially placed under the control of the secret service.5Border Control From Hell

This integration of the RSF into the state apparatus was the attempt by the regime to wash the militia of its bloody past and, since 2015, to give it the reputation of a reliable force for effectively securing the borders. The above-mentioned leader of the militia is today a leading head of the "Hemeti" military transition council and a welcome guest of the Egyptian and Saudi regimes. He repeatedly boasted of the responsibility he assumed for the European Union in combating irregular migration. This remark was of course connected with a threat that Hemeti places in line with Egyptian President Sisi: If Europe does not guarantee the regime further support, we will open the borders.6Border Control From Hell and video of “Hemeti's” speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCv7LYhjNQA&feature=youtu.be

The RSF as a European service provider

The reality of the fight against human smugglers in the context of the Khartoum process then looks like, among other things, that RSF units, as proof of their commitment as a service provider in Europe, pick up Eritrean refugees (also directly in refugee camps) and deport them back to Eritrea, from where they are notorious Tried to escape national military service, which the Eritrean regime extends for life if necessary.

According to official statements, the RSF controlled the central migration routes via Khartoum to Egypt and Libya and outdid itself in reports on the number of people who were prevented from crossing the border. Judging by unofficial statements, the same dynamic developed that we can observe in Libya: “Migrant smuggling is not a sin,” one of them rationalises (RSF member). "Even if we leave [this activity], others will take care of it. So why not benefit from it and get some money, since the fuel is already provided by the government? "7Multilateral Damage: The impact of EU migration policies on central Saharan routes, Jérôme Tubiana, Clotilde Warin, Gaffar Mohammud Saeneen

Equipped with gasoline and an official mandate, RSF members established their contacts with Libyan smugglers and human traffickers in order to establish a profitable additional income. Many refugees report on their journey in RSF vehicles across the Sudanese-Libyan border, where they were resold to Libyan groups and who are at the mercy of their “debts”.8Multilateral Damage “We are aware of the fact that we are dealing with authoritarian regimes, with dictatorships. But for us the most important thing is that the many desperate people get protection. So we're taking these states on board without legalizing their regimes. You will not receive any political or democratic legitimation from us. We only confront them with their responsibility. " 9Monitor - borders tight: Europe's pact with despots, Nikolaus Steiner and Charlotte Wiedl: https://www.wdr.de/tv/applications/daserste/monitor/pdf/2015/0723/manuskript-grenzen-dicht.pdf

With such words, the EU Commissioner for Migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, justified the legitimization of the dictatorial regimes of Eritrea and Sudan that went along with the Khartoum process. It remains to be seen whether he seriously believed his naive words or deliberately tried to wrap the cynical implications of the cooperation with the dictators of the region in euphemistic cotton wool, because the result is the same. Nor does it change anything whether the German Development Aid Minister Gerd Müller ducks away by saying that he “cannot understand” the connection between RSF's participation in EU-funded border security,10Answer to the Federal Government's survey on Sudan in the Bundestag: https://web.facebook.com/buchholz.christine/videos/1540062482797500/?v=1540062482797500 or whether the EU Commission denies its responsibility by noting itself, but its Partner organizations (GIZ, for example) that enforce agreements.

According to a message from an EU spokesman to Deutsche Welle on July 22, 201911https://www.dw.com/en/eu-suspends-migration-control-projects-in-sudan-amid-repression-fears/a-49701408?maca=en-Whatsapp-sharing is the cooperation with the Sudanese government in the fight against irregular migration suspended since March 2019. The financing of a secret service center (ROCK) in Khartoum has only been temporarily put on hold since June. Yet this explanation seems to raise additional contradictions in the light of the previous denial of responsibility. Doesn't it allow the reverse conclusion that by then cooperation with paramilitary militias had knowingly been entered into or could not be ruled out?

The result

The military regimes of Sudan and Eritrea enjoyed that part of the Khartoum agreement that is important to them, namely to escape their diplomatic isolation and to strengthen their own security forces with new money, without protecting migrants and refugees or containing them to be interested in migration.12The Khartoum Process: Critical Assessment and Policy Recommendations, Maximilian Stern For their part, European governments can peddle the fruits of their migration policies in the Horn of Africa.

For migrants in Sudan, on the other hand, it means increased arbitrariness on the part of the security forces and more dangerous escape routes. For the Sudanese democracy movement, the prevailing impression is that European governments have long since made their choice between supporting an uncertain process of democratization and the “reliability and stability” of autocratic regimes. With this in mind, would it not be appropriate to start calling the EU “Better Migration Management” a decisive push factor?