Sudan’s RSF militia arrests 21 illegal immigrants heading to Libya

RSF militiamen ( photo)

September 14, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – The Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a government militia, Thursday said they foiled an attempt to smuggle 21 illegal foreign immigrants to Libya. While some 170 Sudanese returned to the country from Libya voluntarily.

Figures published by the UNHCR, shows a decline in the number of Sudanese refugees and migrants arriving in Europe in the first half of 2017.

In its bulletin of most common nationalities of Mediterranean sea arrivals from January 2017 to August 31, the Sudanese disappeared from the list of the top ten countries. While Eritrean continue to appear with 5,601 individuals who arrived through Libya.

In a statement released in Khartoum, the RSF said they intercepted a vehicle transporting 21 foreigners including five girls heading to Libya across t in the Western Road

Speaking to Ashorooq TV, the RSF commander who led the operation, said they ambushed the traffickers based on intelligence they received and arrested them 50 km west of Fattasha on the Western Road.

Fattasha is located in the remote western area of Khartoum state on the Western Road which links the state with Kordofan and Darfur regions.

Human trafficking gangs operate on the Sudanese-Eritrean border and inside refugee camps in eastern Sudan. They transport them illegally via a desert road to Egypt or Libya, from where they cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

With the support of the European Union, the RSF are deployed along the border with Libya to stop the human smuggling operations. Also since last July, aid groups stopped sending rescue boats to collect vulnerable immigrants in the Mediterranean sea saying the Libyan coast guard open fire on their rescue teams.

The Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that 4,576 migrants lost their lives trying to reach Italy from Libya last year. Also, it says that over 2,200 have drowned in the world’s deadliest migration route during the first half of 2017.

In a related development, the Libyan authorities returned some 170 illegal migrants from Sudan to their country as part of a voluntary repatriation process supported by the IOM.

In statements to Reuters, Hosny Abu Ayana, head of a Libyan detention centre said they will take the Sudanese immigrants to Mitiga airport to where they will take a plane provided by the IOM to Khartoum.

“I am feeling immense joy to be going back home after spending some time here (in Libya). We were stranded at sea, and were brought to this detention centre and have been here for the past 40 days,” said Nur al-Din Mohamed one of the migrants in statements to Reuters.

Detention centres are over-packed and no longer have the necessary space to accommodate the large influx of illegal migrants who face tough conditions in Libya after giving all their money to the traffickers.