Sudan Militia Demands EU Payment for Blocking African Migrants

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(Bloomberg) -- A Sudanese government militia accused of human-rights abuses said it deserves European Union compensation for guarding the border with Libya to prevent African migrants from reaching the Mediterranean.

The commander of the Rapid Support Forces, which has its roots in so-called “janjaweed” militias implicated in war crimes in Sudan’s western Darfur region, said thousands of its fighters are blocking migrants seeking a path to Europe. The EU has pledged over 100 million euros ($123 million) since 2016 for Sudan projects to address the cause of “irregular migration,” but says Sudan’s government doesn’t get any direct financial support nor does the RSF benefit.

“We do the job instead of the EU,” RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan told a graduation ceremony for his fighters Thursday in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. “That’s why they should recognize our efforts and support us as we lost a lot of men, efforts and money -- otherwise we will change our minds from carrying out this duty.”

Sudan, ruled by President Umar al-Bashir, is a transit point for migrants from sub-Saharan Africa countries including Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia as they try to reach Europe. Alongside those escaping war in Syria, they have formed part of Europe’s biggest wave of people fleeing their home countries since World War II.

The RSF, previously deployed by Sudan’s security agency to fight rebels in areas including Darfur and Southern Kordofan, has been accused by the U.S. and New York-based Human Rights Watch of targeting civilians and looting in those territories, charges Sudanese authorities deny.

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