The agreement to return Afghan refugees to Afghanistan is not isolated. A complex process is also being implemented with African countries to block Exiles before their arrival on European soil and to facilitate their return if they succeed in reaching Europe. It is important to follow this process to understand the risk of deportation to the country of origin, especially in the context that will be created with the destruction of the Calais shantytown and the repression that follows to prevent the Exiles resettling before the elections, which would signal the failure of the current government.
The French authorities have also been trying for several years to deport to Sudan (see eg here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here), sporadically, and they sometimes manage to, though rarely.
In the same way as in recent years the sending back of refugees of the former Yugoslavia by Germany may prefigure the agreement between the EU and Afghanistan for the return of Afghan refugees, the Western Balkans perhaps have a rôle which prefigures the ongoing process with east Africa. When in 2009 and 2010 the EU were giving short-stay visas (less than three months) to the nationals of the Western Balkan states (except Kosovo), it requires as a counter part that these States prevent their nationals who are qualified as “bogus asylum seekers” from coming and seeking asylum.
The former Yugoslavia was at peace, no one made a fuss, the fact remains that countries where people could seek asylum called for the states that these people were fleeing to prevent them from escaping them. The former Yugoslavia is at peace, but among many examples of a recent article Courrier des Balkans is entitled “Serbia: death threats against the journalists of Vojvodina”.
The same principle is applied to East African States , but this time we are speaking about the worst dictatorship in the world, Eritrea, or war torn countries – which can also be dictatorships – such as Libya , South Sudan or Ethiopia, a pivotal role has been given to Sudan, plagued by civil wars for over thirty years and whose dictator is wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide, and war crimes and crimes against ‘humanity. It is from these countries that the European Union is preventing their nationals from fleeing, and those from neighboring countries to get close to Europe.
The currency being used by the European Union is not this time visa exemption, but economic aid, and money laundering for particularly disreputable regimes. Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir uses his countries geographical position on the routes of Exiles to come out of international isolation as the Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi had been able to do.
The Khartoum process combines European initiatives and those of the Member States. Like that of Germany, revealed by Der Spiegel (the German government wasn’t eager for the noise to travel abroad) to fund the establishment of two detention centers in Sudan and to provide the Sudanese police with sophisticated control technologies. Italy, which is usually the European country through which Exiles coming from Africa enter the European Union, has a leading role in this process, and has negotiated a readmission agreement with Sudan facilitating deportations.
In the scheme, Sudan has the role of being a hub for deportations, like Niger which plays the same role symmetrically in West Africa, in the Rabat process. The idea being to deport to Sudan, who are then responsible for returning people to their countries of origin. To this end, the International Organization for Migration has opened an office in Khartoum.
The Italian association ARCI has compiled a dossier presenting the entire process and its latest developments, you can download the English translation here
Relativity by M C Escher