Sudanese allege relatives lured to Libya, Yemen conflict zones

KHARTOUM (AFP) – Dozens of Sudanese protested on Tuesday in Khartoum, alleging that their relatives had been recruited by a United Arab Emirates (UAE) firm as security guards but were despatched to war-zones in Libya and Yemen.

Men and women carrying banners that read “Our sons are not for sale” and “Bring back our sons” demonstrated outside Sudan’s Foreign Ministry in central Khartoum.

Several demonstrators AFP spoke to said their relatives had been given UAE visas by travel agencies following advertisements in local newspapers for Sudanese men to work as security guards for a UAE firm called Black Shield. “My brother travelled to UAE on August 20 but six days ago we lost contact with him,” said Salma Mohamed, one of the demonstrators.

“We saw on social media that he and others had been taken to Libya or Yemen. We have no information, we want him to return.” Another demonstrator, Imad Osman, was giving out sweets to fellow protesters after he was told that his son was returning from Libya.

“My son travelled in September to UAE but 10 days ago we lost contact with him,” Osman said. “Today he informed me that he and some others were brought back from Ras Lanuf in Libya to Abu Dhabi.”

The Foreign Ministry said it was working with the UAE authorities to resolve the issue. “The ministry is following up this issue of some Sudanese citizens being recruited by a private UAE company as security guards,” it said in a statement. “The families have alleged that their contracts have been violated, which has seen some of them being taken by the company to Libyan oilfields.”

Later on Tuesday evening about 50 young men returned from Abu Dhabi and held a sit-in outside the UAE embassy in the capital, an AFP correspondent reported. They did not say whether they had come from Libya or Yemen but said they would continue with their sit-in until all those recruited by the UAE company return to Sudan.

Sudanese demonstrators carry placards and chant slogans as they protest outside the Foreign Ministry in Khartoum. PHOTO: AFP