The European Union has reportedly brokered a controversial deal with Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir in an effort to limit refugees entering the continent from Africa.
The ambassadors of the 28-member-state bloc held a meeting on March 23, during which they agreed to work together with Bashir to stop the refugees’ flow to Europe, German newspaper Spiegel reported.
Under the deal, the bloc will provide eight African countries, including Sudan, with £40 million over three years to secure their borders, the daily has found.
The European Commission warned that “under no circumstances” should the public learn about the agreement.
Classified documents obtained by Spiegel indicate that Europe also will provide cameras, scanners and servers to the Sudanese government to register refugees.
Under the project, led by Germany, Sudanese border police will be trained and Germany will construct camps and detention rooms for Sudan.
According to Sudanese authorities, several people from Germany visited the African country in recent weeks to discuss the construction of closed camps.
Sudan, Africa’s third largest country, is a key route for refugees from Eritrea, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, who make their way via Khartoum to Libya, where they take boats to Europe.
The EU deal with the Sudanese president has concerned rights groups since Bashir faces International Criminal Court (ICC) charges of genocide and war crimes in the 2003 conflict in the western region of Darfur.
Sudan’s cooperation to stop the refugees, however, is questioned within the EU since the Sudanese government is accused of working with criminal networks in illegal crossing of refugees. According to a report by the human rights group, the Sudanese police and military have been selling refugees to human smugglers.
Europe is struggling with the biggest refugee crisis since the World War II. Refugees are fleeing conflict-ridden zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria, to reach Europe.
The EU has already come under fire for brokering a deal with Turkey to return back all the asylum seekers and refugees who had used the Aegean Sea to illegally reach Greece.
The bloc, however, is in a stand-off with Turkey on the future of the agreement since Ankara refuses to make changes to its anti-terror laws as required by the EU.
On Friday, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) denounced the deal as a “historic abdication” of Europe’s moral and legal responsibilities.
In an open letter to EU member states and institutions, MSF chief Joanne Liu said the agreement “effectively outsources caring for these people to Turkey.”
Over a million refugees entered Europe through Turkey and Greece last year and then made their way through the Balkans to Germany and other northern member states of the bloc.
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