Sudan receives first US dollar transfers since sanctions lifted

A cashier counts US Dollars as people wait to receive money inside Bab Al-Mandab Exchange transfer money bureau in Khartoum, Sudan on October 7, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 11 October 2017
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Sudan receives first US dollar transfers since sanctions lifted

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s central bank said Wednesday it had received its first overseas fund transfer in US dollars since Washington announced the lifting of a 20-year-old trade embargo against Khartoum.
Washington last week announced the lifting of sanctions from this Thursday onward, saying Khartoum had made progress on conditions set for ending the embargo, in place since 1997.
“The transferring of American dollars has commenced after the lifting of sanctions,” Sudan’s official news agency SUNA said, quoting a statement from the Central Bank of Sudan.
“Yesterday, two Sudanese banks received overseas money transfers in US dollars, one from America and another from Europe,” it said, without specifying the amounts or the banks’ names.
Washington had imposed sanctions two decades ago over Khartoum’s alleged support for militant groups. It had slapped restrictions on international banking transactions and exchange of technology and spare parts, along with other trade barriers.
Sudan’s economy also suffered a body blow when the south split from the north in 2011 after a bitter civil war, taking with it the bulk of the country’s oil revenues.
Sudan’s currency has been volatile on the black market since Washington’s announcement.
Previously valued at 21.50 to the dollar, the Sudanese pound strengthened to 18.50 in the aftermath of Washington’s announcement.
It was trading at 20 to the dollar on Wednesday.
“The news that Sudanese banks have received US dollar transfers has not impacted the currency market so far,” a forex trader said.
Sudan’s central bank has kept the pound’s official rate at 6.7 to the dollar, but the currency had slumped significantly on the black market in recent months.
The weakening of the pound has bumped inflation up to around 35 percent.
Washington last week said Khartoum had made progress on maintaining a cessation of hostilities in conflict areas, giving aid workers access to such zones and cooperating with US intelligence agencies to fight “terrorism.”


Half of Aquarius migrants ‘seek asylum in France’: Spanish govt

Updated 33 min 25 sec ago
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Half of Aquarius migrants ‘seek asylum in France’: Spanish govt

MADRID: Almost half of the 630 migrants that were rescued from the Mediterranean and arrived in Spain’s port of Valencia at the weekend want to seek asylum in France, the Spanish government said Monday.
The migrants arrived in Spain on Sunday in three vessels, including the rescue ship Aquarius, after being turned away by Italy and Malta last week.
“Almost half the migrants have shown their willingness to seek asylum in France, which offered to welcome some of the people traveling on the ship,” Spain’s new socialist government said in a statement.
The majority of the 630 migrants are from Africa, including 450 men and 80 women, of which at least seven are pregnant, as well as 89 adolescents and 11 children under the age of 13, according to the Valencia authorities.
The Aquarius, run by French charity SOS Mediterranee, rescued them off Libya’s coast on June 9 and Italy and Malta’s refusal to let the ship dock led to an international outcry before Spain stepped in to help.
Madrid on Saturday said it had accepted an offer from France — who had angered Rome by branding it irresponsible — to welcome Aquarius migrants who “meet the criteria for asylum.”
France will examine asylum requests from Aquarius migrants who want to come over from Spain on a “case-by-case basis,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said Sunday, adding it was “impossible” to know how many will arrive.


Pascal Brice, director-general of France’s refugee protection office Ofpra, told AFP that one of his teams would travel to Valencia soon.
“As soon as the Spanish authorities have informed us of the number of people concerned, a team from Ofpra will go on site to conduct the interviews and ensure that people are covered by the right to asylum,” he said, adding that the process should take place this week.
Local leaders on the French island of Corsica had offered to welcome the Aquarius, but the move was slapped down by the central government, which argued that under international law the ship had to dock at the closest port.
A majority of the French public, 56 percent, back the government’s decision, an opinion poll released Monday showed.
In Spain the migrants were granted authorization to remain in the country for 45 days while each individual’s legal case is studied.
Those who file a demand for asylum will be able to stay in the country while immigration services consider their request, a process that takes up to six months, said Paloma Favieres of the Spanish Commission for Refugees (CEAR).