Sudan and Eritrea Crack Down on Migrants Headed to Europe
Sudanese authorities reportedly detained hundreds of migrants in Khartoum this week amid an increased crackdown on security at the Eritrean border.
This week saw reports that 900 Eritreans were detained in Khartoum, and that another 400 Eritreans were arrested on their way to Libya, where it was assumed they would continue their journey to Europe.
Many of those detained in Khartoum were working in Sudan, and some even had residency in the country. Sudanese authorities rounded up Eritreans from the streets, from their homes and even from their places of business, Martin Plaut, a fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies in London, reported.
The majority of those arrested were brought to the border and sent back to Eritrea, where it is considered a criminal offense to leave without permission. Eritrean security forces at the border are under orders to “shoot to kill” anyone attempting to cross illegally, according to a report from the New Statesman.
There have also been reports of increased security on the Eritrean side of their border with Sudan, making it much more difficult for people to leave the country.
“Leaving Eritrea to Sudan is becoming hard now,” Meron Estefanos, an Eritrean activist, told IRIN News. “People are being intercepted and sent back.”
Eritrean migrants are the third largest group arriving in Europe hoping to apply for asylum. Earlier this month, news reports claimed that Europe was considering working with several African countries – particularly Sudan and Eritrea – to stem the influx of migrant workers travelling to Europe.
Zawiya Branch of Libyan Red Crescent Shuts Down Migrant Rescue Operations
A branch of the Libyan Red Crescent announced on Thursday that it would shut down its search and rescue operations in al-Zawiya, west of Tripoli.
Their work included recovering bodies of migrants washed ashore after drowning in an attempt to reach Europe, as well as providing shelter, medical aid and food for those who were rescued at sea.
The head of the Red Crescent al-Zawiya branch, Ali al-Henish, told the Libya Observer that the branch had no choice but to halt operations as it had completely run out of supplies, including refrigerated vehicles to transport bodies, gloves and body bags.
Prior to this, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) had been providing the Libyan Red Crescent with supplies, including nearly 2,000 body bags from the Netherlands.
Henish said that he expects more bodies to wash ashore in Zawiya this week as boats continue to capsize in the Mediterranean.
Boat Carrying Migrants Overturns in Mediterranean
At least five people are believed to have died when a boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized in the Mediterranean on Wednesday.
The Italian navy said it expected to rescue 562 people from the shipwreck and another 108 people from a similar incident later on Wednesday, according to the BBC.
Over the last week, the Italian navy and various vessels have rescued at least 3,000 migrants who were attempting to reach Europe from Libya.
In the first five months of this year, some 191,000 migrants and refugees have made the perilous sea journey across the Mediterranean and arrived in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain.
Not including Wednesday’s incident, 1,370 people have died this year trying to make this same trip to Europe, according to the IOM.
- The Local: Striking Pictures Capture Moment of Migrant Shipwreck
- The Guardian: ‘Refugee’ Is Children’s Word of the Year, Declares Oxford University Press
- IRIN News: The World Humanitarian Summit – in a Few Words
- BBC: Migrant Crisis: The Smugglers’ Route Through Hungary
- The Washington Post: Europe’s Migrant Deal with Turkey May Be Unraveling. But It Was Flawed from the Start