Some 1.5 million illegal foreign refugees currently living in Sudan want to travel to Europe and Israel, the interior ministry in Khartoum has announced.
The ministry's head of the directorate of foreigners, General Yassin Mohamed El-Hassan, explained that while the number of legitimate visitors with visas is being monitored, the authorities in Khartoum provide illegal immigrants with identity documents in order to control their movement within the country.
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Speaking at a symposium in the Sudanese capital, El-Hassan pointed out that the number of legal immigrants now stands at 56,000, most of whom work for foreign investment and oil projects.
The majority of the refugees who have crossed into Sudan illegally come from neighbouring Eritrea and Ethiopia. They generally do not intend to settle in Sudan but seek to cross into Libya and from there go to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea, or to Israel. Sudan is identified as a source of migrants to Europe and a transit country for migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia.
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Many Sudanese, particularly those from the Darfur region who used to work in Libya, consider their country as a way station en route to Europe. Sudanese from the centre and north usually move to the Gulf countries.
The European Union has signed several agreements with Sudan to control illegal migration and human trafficking.