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Press Review 12 April 2024 to 19 April 2024

International community pledges two billion euros in aid to Sudan

On Monday, the “International Humanitarian Conference for Sudan and neighbouring countries” organised by France, Germany and the EU took place in Paris, at which more than two billion euros in financial aid was pledged to Sudan. The occasion was the anniversary of the outbreak of fighting between the Sudanese government army and the paramilitary movement (RSF) (press review CW 16/2023). Ministers from 58 countries and representatives of regional organisations such as the African Union (AU), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD ) and the League of Arab States took part in the conference. The UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Sudan and former Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra as well as representatives of various donor organisations and Sudanese civil society were also among the participants. From the European side, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was joined by French President Emmanuel Macron, French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borell and EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic, among others. The aim of the actors present was to agree on a joint approach in their respective efforts to resolve the conflict.

The EU Commission announced that it will provide 215 million euros to support the UN appeal for aid for Sudan and a further 140 million euros for neighbouring countries. Foreign Minister Baerbock also announced that Germany would provide a further 244 million euros for Sudan and its neighbouring countries this year. France also announced that it would provide the north-east African country with a further 110 million; the US is also contributing 138 million. The UN Financial Tracking Service had previously estimated that Sudan needs around 2.5 billion euros to overcome the humanitarian crisis and save thousands of people from starvation. In February, the UN Security Council pledged 4.1 billion US dollars (3.8 billion euros) for emergency aid measures in Sudan and the surrounding refugee camps. So far, however, only six per cent of the required sum has been provided, said Baerbock. In the run-up to the donor conference, various international mediators had already met behind closed doors to adopt a joint declaration of principles. At the same time, talks were held with representatives of Sudanese civil society at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris.

The talks in Paris were not only about financial pledges, but also about prospects and efforts for peace and conflict resolution. Foreign Minister Baerbock emphasised how important it was to exert the necessary pressure on the parties to the conflict in addition to financial pledges in order to persuade them to negotiate. Her French counterpart, Mr Séjourné, presented current figures showing that around 27 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian aid. He called for free access for humanitarian aid, a ceasefire and the return to a democratic transition under civilian leadership in Sudan as basic principles. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also called for a “humanitarian ceasefire”. According to the US, the peace talks in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, are to be resumed within the next three weeks.

The power struggle between Sudan’s de facto ruler Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, also known as “Hemeti”, has led to what is now the largest refugee crisis in the world over the past twelve months. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 8.6 million people in Sudan and neighbouring countries are fleeing the fighting between the government army SAF and Daglo’s militia RSF. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) speaks of 18 million starving people. The political and humanitarian situation is also aggravated by the role of other countries in this conflict. Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Eritrea are supporting the de facto ruler al-Burhan, while the United Arab Emirates and Russia are supporting Daglo’s troops. Moscow is also seeking control of a naval base on the Red Sea.

 

Italian Prime Minister Meloni for talks in Tunisia

Tunisian President Kais Saied received Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in Tunis on Wednesday. It was Meloni’s fourth visit to the North African country within a year. The Prime Minister was accompanied by Italian Minister of the Interior Matteo Piantedosi and Minister of University and Research Anna Maria Bernini, among others. The main purpose of the visit was to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the areas of migration and business.

Several cooperation agreements were announced during the meeting between Saied and Meloni. These include a payment of 50 million euros to the Tunisian state budget to support the promotion of energy efficiency and renewable energies. The Italian government is also financing loans totalling 55 million euros to support small and medium-sized enterprises in Tunisia. A framework agreement on cooperation in the higher education sector has also been adopted. In addition, 12,000 Tunisian skilled workers from various fields are to receive residence permits in Italy.

These cooperation agreements are part of the implementation of the so-called Mattei Plan, which conceptualises Italy’s ambitions for an ambitious Africa policy and was presented at the Italy-Africa Summit at the end of January 2024 (press review CW 5/2024). Tunisia is one of the nine African countries in which pilot projects are being implemented as part of the Mattei Plan, whereby the North African country is of strategic importance in several respects. Italy has set itself the goal of becoming a hub for energy transport between Europe and Africa. For this reason, Italy’s electricity grid is to be connected to Tunisia’s by the ELMED submarine cable by 2028. In this way, Italy wants to utilise the great potential of southern Tunisia for the generation of renewable energy from solar and wind power.

Furthermore, the prevention of illegal migration to Europe is at the centre of Italy’s Africa policy. Tunisia is seen as an important partner here, not only for Italy but also for the EU, which signed a controversial migration agreement with the country in July 2023. Meloni thanked the Tunisian authorities for the work they have done so far with regard to the agreement and assured Saied of his support in ensuring that Tunisia does not become “a port of call for migrants from the rest of Africa”. Only on Monday, Saied had assured the Tunisian National Security Council that he would not allow Tunisia to become a border control point for Europe and would not set up reception centres such as those in Albania to intercept asylum seekers. Saied, who repeatedly attracts attention with his anti-migrant rhetoric, also stated that Tunisia would never become a transit or settlement country for migrants. Against this backdrop, Meloni’s visit was accompanied by protests by civil society groups in front of the Italian embassy in Tunis, which were directed against the right-wing policies of the Italian government and also accused Rome of further fuelling anti-migrant sentiment in Tunisia.

 

In other news

The historical museum of the Kingdom of Bamum was inaugurated in Foumban in western Cameroon on Saturday. Mouhammad Nabil Mforifoum Mbombo Njoya, Sultan of Foumban and King (Fon) of the Kingdom of Bamum, welcomed 2,000 guests to the square of the royal palace in Foumban, the historic capital of the Bamun kings, for the opening ceremony which was also attended by Cameroonian Minister of Culture Pierre Ismaël Bidoung Mkpatt. The kingdom was founded in 1384 and is one of the oldest in Sub-Saharan Africa. The architecture of the museum is modelled on the Bamum coat of arms and consists of a double-headed snake, a spider and a double gong. This unique museum exhibits 12,500 different artifacts from the kingdom, including weapons, musical instruments and sculptures. The museum honours and protects the cultural achievements of the Bamum.

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