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MEDIA NOTE: Migration from Sudan to Europe caused by ‘systemic persecution’ of ethnic and political groups – new report and experts available

Written by Margie Buchanan-Smith

Press Release

The systemic persecution and discrimination of certain ethnic, social and political groups in Sudan is the main cause of migration from Sudan to Europe, warns a new report from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the Research and Evidence Facility (REF) Consortium at SOAS.

The report, Darfuri migration from Sudan to Europe: from displacement to despair, documents the inhumane consequences of Europe’s repressive approach to migration. It reveals the fundamental failure to protect Sudanese migrants by their own government, the EU and countries along the migration journey.

The report includes interviews with Darfuris in Europe, their families in Sudan and those wanting to migrate.

Report co-author Margie Buchanan-Smith, Senior Research Associate at ODI, said: 'Many Darfuris – mostly young men from Zaghawa, Fur and Masalit – are fleeing systemic persecution in Sudan, including ongoing attacks, harassment and detention in Darfur. 

'Once they reach Europe, their asylum claims often take months, sometimes years, to process, with the ever-present risk of deportation back to Italy then Sudan. For this reason, many do not claim asylum and are stuck moving between France and Belgium.'

Report co-author Susanne Jaspars, Research Associate at SOAS, University of London, said: 'Darfuris in Europe are forced to live under the radar, away from state protection and are vulnerable to exploitation and violence.

'Governments must tackle the causes of young people migrating from Sudan. This includes the EU and its member states making  human rights a priority during discussions with the Sudanese government.'

This unique study follows refugees and migrants from their origin to their destination and finds:

  • Contrary to the prevailing narrative that the Darfur conflict is over, and that stability is being restored, there is persistent and pervasive harassment, surveillance and discrimination of ethnic groups.
  • People in Darfur have a history of migrating but this current movement to Europe is mostly forced, due to ongoing conflict in Darfur, and political instability in the region, including Libya, South Sudan and Egypt.
  • Darfuris in Europe face a combination of border controls (Italy–France and France–UK), slow asylum procedures (France), and the use of force by the police. There is a lack of protection or assistance for those without legal status, and the possibility of arrest, detention and forced return back to Sudan.
  • While the EU and other donors are engaged in aid programming in Darfur, much more needs to be done to address the root causes of young people’s decisions to leave.

Report authors Margie Buchanan-Smith and Susanne Jaspars are available for interview.

For more information, to see a draft copy of the report or to arrange an interview, please contact Brenda Yu at [email protected] or Miles Barter at [email protected] or +44(0)7808 791 265.