Libya crisis affecting fight against human trafficking: Bashir

Libya crisis affecting fight against human trafficking: Bashir
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, right and Libya's unity government chief Fayez al-Sarraj hold a press conference upon the latters's arrival in Khartoum on Sunday. (AFP)
Updated 27 August 2017

Libya crisis affecting fight against human trafficking: Bashir

Libya crisis affecting fight against human trafficking: Bashir

KHARTOUM: President Omar Bashir said on Sunday that the crisis in neighboring Libya has impacted Sudan, with human traffickers using the East African country’s territories to commit “cross-border crimes.”
Speaking at a joint press conference with visiting UN-backed Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj, Bashir also said security issues in Libya had made Khartoum’s fight against human trafficking “more expensive.”
“We are affected directly by the insecurity in Libya, which has made it expensive for us to fight human trafficking, illegal immigration and cross-border crimes,” Bashir said.
“Those who are committing these crimes are using the instability in Libya, and using Sudanese territories to commit their crimes.”
Every year tens of thousands of illegal immigrants from the Horn of Africa cross Sudan and enter Libya for their onward journey to Europe across the Mediterranean.
In recent years European and African authorities have put pressure on Khartoum to boost efforts to curb illegal immigration and human trafficking. Khartoum recognizes the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord of Al-Sarraj, a rival of Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is accused by Sudan of enlisting rebels from the country’s Darfur region to fight alongside his forces. Bashir reiterated that accusation on Sunday.
“We have some Sudanese members of rebel groups active in Libya as mercenaries,” he said, without elaborating.
Al-Sarraj said the two leaders discussed the security situation in Libya.
“Sudan is of strategic importance to Libya, and we discussed how to secure the border,” he said.
The two leaders did not talk about last month’s closure of a Sudanese consulate and the expulsion of 12 diplomats by the Haftar-backed authorities in eastern Libya.
A pro-Haftar news agency had reported that the Sudanese mission in Kufra, an oasis in southern Libya, was closed on the grounds that it damaged “Libyan national security.”
According to officials in Khartoum, dozens of young Sudanese — both men and women — have been killed in Libya fighting in the ranks of Daesh.
USAID chief visits Sudan
US President Donald Trump’s new aid chief, Mark Green, kicked off an African tour in Sudan on Sunday, where he will assess whether Khartoum has done enough to get help into conflict areas to deserve eased sanctions.
It is Green’s first trip as administrator for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), a job he began two weeks ago amid talk of budget cuts and a wide-reaching reorganization of the agency by the Trump administration.
He is due to visit aid projects in drought-hit zones including neighboring Ethiopia, at a time when Washington is considering an estimated 30-percent cut in the budget of the State Department and USAID.
But his priorities will also include weighing whether Washington should reform one of its main diplomatic fronts in the region — a raft of sanctions imposed first over Khartoum’s perceived support of global terrorism, later its violent suppression of rebels in Darfur.