Khartoum Process works to stem migration from Horn of Africa


Illegal or informal immigration to Europe from Africa is a serious issue for both sides and seen by many in Europe as a  threat to domestic stability given the populist concern at immigration.

The European Union has made an attempt to deal with the problem or the issues that promote illegal and informal immigration – particularly economic migration from the Horn of Africa, with the so-called Khartoum Process. It’s intended to look at the roots of immigration and to deal with the associated questions of human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.

It’s officially seen as successful but it has also been strongly criticized.

Irish Defence Force vessel Eithne rescuing African migrants during her 2015 deployment to the Mediterranean. Photo: Irish Defence Force

The official website of the Khartoum process describes it as a “political cooperation amongst the countries along the migration route between the Horn of Africa and Europe.” It focuses on the Horn of Africa route to Europe, hence the name Khartoum, from the capital of Sudan.  The project is funded by the European Union and implemented by the International Center for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD). A look to the milestones suggests the organization sees progress  since 2016, during which time many initiatives have been launched.

Some academics take a different view of the success or failure of the initiative. For example, Maximilian Stern of the Rome-based African Affairs Institute (Istituto Affari Internazionali IAI) has published a study in which he pointed out the internal dilemma of having some of the countries involved in the process whose people make up the bulk of would-be immigrants, which also benefit from having citizens in the EU.

Amjed Farid a well known Sudanese political activist described the Khartoum process as “wrong on so many levels” and that it has been designed to “manage and decrease what have become (the) unwelcome ‘burden’ of humanitarian refugees to Europe.”

In his article Farid explained why some oppressive regimes such as the one in Khartoum itself are the cause of the crisis with the regime being a key driver for immigrants to take the risks involved in attempting to get to Europe.

Suliman Baldo, a senior adviser at Enough Project published a report titled “Border Control from Hell, in which he raised his concerns about the “The equipment that enables identification and registration of migrants will also reinforce the surveillance capabilities of a Sudanese government that has violently suppressed Sudanese citizens for the past 28 years.”

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