By H. Young and A. M. Osman, (2007). International Migration Review. 41(4): 826-849.
Labor migration and commerce between Sudan and Libya have long been features of livelihoods in Darfur. This paper describes the importance of historical trade and migration links between Darfur and Libya, and provides a background to the political and economic situation in Libya which has influenced opportunities for Sudanese migrant workers. A case study of the situation of the Darfurian migrants in Kufra (an oasis and transnational trade hub in southern Libya) illustrates how the recent Darfur conflict has affected migration patterns from Darfur and remittance flows in the opposite direction. Official estimates of Darfurian migrant workers in Libya were unavailable but were estimated to be between 150,000 and 250,000. The closure of the national border between Sudan and Libya in May 2003, largely a result of insecurity in Darfur, stopped the traffic of migrant workers between northern Darfur and southern Libya (which prevented the onward travel to Sudan of several thousand migrants in Kufra), and curtailed the well-established trade routes, communications, and remittance flows. The current limited economic prospects for migrant workers in Libya, combined with the threat of detention, difficulties of return to Sudan, and loss of contact with and uncertainty about the fate of their families in Darfur, have created a sense of despair among many Darfurians. The paper concludes with a series of recommendations to improve the conditions of the Darfurian migrants in Libya, including an amnesty for illegal migrants, and also to ease the travel of migrants, promote communications between Libya and Darfur, and support the flow of remittances.