Khartoum, Sudan | AFP | Dozens of Sudanese protested Tuesday in Khartoum, alleging that their relatives had been recruited by a 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 nor 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 United Arab Emirates 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.
The United Nations said in a December report that five Sudanese and four Chadian armed groups had contributed thousands of combatants to fight in Libya.
A separate UN report on Sudan released this month also said that many Arabs from the conflict-wracked region of Darfur were fighting as “individual mercenaries” alongside Libyan warring parties.
Libya has been mired in chaos since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising that killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with the main cleavage nowadays pitting military strongman Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan Arab Armed Forces against a UN recognised government in Tripoli.