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Eritrean refugees being enslaved and abused in Sudan and Egypt


 Courtesy photo by Human Rights Watch


by Joseph Earnest  February 11, 2014


Newscast Media BERLIN—Traffickers have kidnapped, tortured, and killed refugees, most from Eritrea, in eastern Sudan and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, according to dozens of interviewees said Human Rights Watch. Egypt and Sudan have failed to adequately identify and prosecute the traffickers and any security officials who may have colluded with them, breaching both countries’ obligation to prevent torture.

The 79-page report, "'I Wanted to Lie Down and Die:' Trafficking and Torture of Eritreans in Sudan and Egypt," documents how, since 2010, Egyptian traffickers have tortured Eritreans for ransom in the Sinai Peninsula, including through rape, burning, and mutilation.

    "The first group of kidnappers said I had to pay $3,500. They blindfolded all of us and chained our hands and legs together. They threatened to remove our organs if we didn’t pay."

    "They beat me with a metal rod. They dripped molten plastic onto my back. They beat the soles of my feet and then they forced me to stand for long periods of time, sometimes for days."

    "I buy Eritreans from other Bedouins near my village for about $10,000 each. So far I have bought about 100. I keep them in a small hut about 20 kilometers from where I live and I pay two men to stand guard. I torture them so their relatives pay me to let them go. When I started a year ago, I asked for $ 20,000 per person. I know this money is haram [shameful], but I do it anyway. This year I made about $200,000 profit."

It also documents torture by traffickers in eastern Sudan and 29 incidents in which victims told Human Rights Watch that Sudanese and Egyptian security officers facilitated trafficker abuses rather than arresting them and rescuing their victims. Egyptian officials deny there are trafficker abuses in Sinai, allowing it to become a safe haven for traffickers.

*Click here to read or download entire human abuse report. (pop-up)

"Egyptian officials have for years denied the horrific abuse of refugees going on under their noses in Sinai," said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher for Human Rights Watch and author of the report. "Both Egypt and Sudan need to put an end to torture and extortion of Eritreans on their territory, and to prosecute traffickers and any security officials colluding with them,"
 he added.

The report draws on 37 interviews with Eritreans by Human Rights Watch and 22 by a nongovernmental organization in Egypt. The people interviewed said they had been abused for weeks or even months, either near the town of Kassala in eastern Sudan or near the town of Arish in northeastern Sinai, near Egypt’s border with Israel.

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