A High level Sudanese police official disclosed that the number of foreigners residing in violation of the law in Khartoum state has reached three million. Two million are from the neighboring Ethiopia.
Foreigners from other nationalities residing illegally in Sudan includes 200,000 from Eritrea.
Khartoum State Governor Lt. Gen. Abdulrahim Mohamed Hussein said this on Tuesday, whilst addressing the conference of the issues affecting the security and criminal status in Khartoum, organised by the state police on recommendations by the security committee.
He announced issues related to foreign presence and human trafficking are of deep concern to the government.
Sudanese towns have in recent years seen large influx of illegal Ethiopian migrants who enter the country through their porous common border mostly looking for jobs or else as a transit to cross to Israel and Europe. But the simple fact that they constituted two million of the undocumented migrants that are living in the capital makes Ethiopia the number one migrant producing country in the world.
As for the 200,000 Eritreans, I believe a little background will help the reader to have a better understanding on the figures.
When Eritrea gained independence in 1991, there were approximately 500,000 Eritrean refugees living in the Sudan. One year after independence, about 70,000 of these refugees repatriated to Eritrea. In subsequent years, repatriation dropped dramatically and by 1995, there were still 282,000 refugees that remained in the Sudan as refugees despite the peace in Eritrea and despite the nation entering the so-called “African Renaissance.”
In 1996, Arnulv Torbjornsen, the then UNHCR-Sudan chief, admitted that Eritrean refugees in Sudan creates 2000 jobs and repatriating all of the remaining 282,000 Eritreans will create a disaster for UNHCR.
“We (UNCHR) created a monster in Sudan”and that “we still support 2,000 jobs in the refugee business there, and there are vested interests in keeping the Eritrean refugees. If they repatriate, their refugee empire will collapse. We have to take a lot of responsibility for creating the situation in Sudan.”
He then goes on to explain that 80-90% of the refugees want to repatriate in Eritrea.
“UNHCR conducted a survey in the camps in August 1995, and all said they wish to go home. But perhaps about 50 percent of those spontaneously settled want to return – they have shops, houses, children in school, etc.”
Therefore, complete repatriation was not impossible due to the ineffectiveness of the UNHCR and so does the more than 200,000 Eritrean migrants in Sudan. However, this doesn’t mean that Eritreans stop migrating to Sudan since.