Sudanese Persist on Dangerous Voyage to Libya, Europe Amidst Drought and Floods

In the face of a siege, inhabitants of El Fasher and nearby regions, with the financial capability, are escaping to undertake the dangerous passage to Libya and points beyond.

The El Fasher vicinity is suffering as civilians become targets of the RSF and its allied militias on the ground, and the air is marred by the army’s indiscriminate bombings. About one-third of the city’s populace comes from displaced communities within Darfur, seeking relocation once more in the absence of safety and security.

Hussein Jumaa has been in North Darfur State for nearly two months, eagerly awaiting any word from his brother, Ahmed, who escaped to Libya with his wife and kids seeking a brighter future. Last he knew, Ahmed promised to get in touch upon their arrival in Tripoli, the Libyan capital. With no word since then, Jumaa is filled with concern, fully cognizant of the peril their smuggling route entails. “My anticipation grows daily for news that my brother’s family has safely reached Tripoli, to proceed with plans of joining them,” Jumaa expressed to Ayin.

A power struggle over political and economic dominance between the Sudanese army and the RSF has displaced over 10 million individuals within and outside Sudan’s borders. A significant number of those affected, particularly from Darfur and South Kordofan, navigate the treacherous path to Libya, a notorious corridor for smuggling and human trafficking, as Marwa Mohamed from Lawyers for Justice in Libya detailed to Ayin.

“The trajectory to safety has become increasingly fraught,” reveals Mohammed Zakaria, a travel coordinator in El-Fasher, witnessing a surge in the weekly trips arranged to the border area, escalating from two to between eight and nine on account of growing desperation and demand.

Travel trepidations

Abdulaziz Muhammad, who formerly taught in Nyala, embarked on a month-long venture to Libya following the outbreak of war which saw his salary cease. Entrusting his savings for the ride, Muhammad, like many Sudanese, ventured into the unknown aboard smuggling vehicles, confiding their fates to the hands of smugglers, he recounted to Ayin.

Descending into horror from the tri-border area, Muhammad and fifteen other Sudanese families fell prey to a collaborating network of smugglers and human trafficking bands in Kulfra. Detained in “deposit centers,” large warehouses on farms lacking basic living facilities, they endured overcrowded conditions until finally transported to their ultimate stop, Tripoli. Muhammad detailed to Ayin.

Encounters with mortal peril shadow many, as Idris Al-Nur, a 20-year-old who aimed for Italy via Libya, found himself abandoned in the desert, a survivor among a group left stranded without water by a Libyan driver. An RSF patrol eventually rescued Al-Nur and a handful of survivors, a stark reminder of the looming death facing those who tread this path.

Libya, popular despite the risks

An estimated 125,363 Sudanese migrants have found refuge in Libya, according to the IOM, with figures suggesting an influx of up to 31,000 Sudanese by January’s end following the onset of conflict.

By the conclusion of March 2024, over 15,000 Sudanese reaching Libya post-15 April 2023 were recorded by the UNHCR, identifying a significant Sudanese contingent among registered African asylum seekers. Despite the lack of on-ground protection and documentation issues, Sudanese refugees are recognized, albeit faced with risks of exploitation and detention in crowded conditions, as highlighted by Marwa Mohamed.

Despite harsh realities, the influx of Sudanese into Libya persists, many taking up menial jobs with minimal pay. For countless Sudanese, Libya serves as a mere waypoint on their journey to European prospects, defined by Mohamed Awad Al-Karim from the Sudanese community office in Libya.

Funded Interceptions

Since 2014, a pact with the former Sudanese regime under Omar al-Bashir enabled EU-backed training of security forces, including the RSF, to curb migrant flows to Europe.

Moreover, since 2015, the EU has sponsored the Libyan coast guard in their efforts to intercept and return migrants attempting the perilous sea journey to Italy, often ensuing in grave predicaments for those returned, as Marwa elucidated to Ayin.

In 2023 alone, Italy saw the arrival of around six thousand Sudanese refugees, a testament to the unyielding migration despite increased coast guard interceptions, as per Marwa’s insights to Ayin.

The perilous Mediterranean crossover remains uncertain for many Libyan-based migrants, as a tragic incident in Zawiya showed when 60 Africans, including Sudanese, drowned en route to Italy, a situation exacerbated by the obstructive practices of Italy’s right-wing administration, according to SOS Mediterranee.

Facing dire conditions in Darfur, individuals like Ahmed Hussein* see the daunting journey to Europe via Libya as their sole option for escape and a potential gateway to a better life, despite the imminent hazards. His determination is shaped by the quest for survival and hope, he shared with Ayin.

* Name altered for anonymity

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More