Hundreds of Sudanese staged a rally outside the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Embassy in Khartoum on Tuesday to protest their recruitment to fight for Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar’s militia.
Protesters demanded “apology and compensation” from the UAE authorities for being deceived by Emirati company “Black Shield Security Services” to fight for Haftar instead of employment.
They threatened to take the issue to the UN and human rights groups if the UAE Embassy failed to respond to their demands.
Black Shield Security Services has previously denied allegations of lying to Sudanese nationals about the nature of their expected work in Libya.
The UAE – a main backer of Haftar along with Egypt and Russia – has been accused by the United Nations and rights organisations of breaking a UN arms embargo on Libya by sending weapons and mercenaries to fight for Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA).
A UN report last October said thousands of Sudanese were fighting alongside the LNA against forces from the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).
Other media reports, including a recent report by the Guardian, also accused the UAE of transporting hundreds of mercenaries to fight in Libya and Yemen.
Haftar’s forces have been on the back foot after military support from Turkey helped GNA fighters repel his 14-month assault to seize the capital, Tripoli.
The GNA has recaptured the key al-Witaya airbase and the city of Tarhuna in recent weeks, and now has set its sights on the strategic city of Sirte.
Haftar has deployed thousands of foreign mercenaries, including Sudanese and Chadian fighters, for the looming battle for the city – the last significant settlement before the traditional boundary between Libya’s west and east. Whoever controls Sirte controls Libya’s main oil export ports.