“Brutal violence’ faced by growing number of trafficked Eritrean refugees

Photo from DR/UNHCR

Photo from DR/UNHCR

Sudan Tributes published an article about the unimaginable terror faced by trafficked Eritrean refugees living in camps along Sudan and Eritrea’s border.  Much of the information came from a report done by Amnesty International.

According to reports, kidnappings are largely carried out by the local Rashaida tribe in coordination with other armed gangs operating in and around the Shagarab refugee camps in eastern Sudan, near the Eritrean border. Victims are then sold off to Bedouin criminal networks in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula for various purposes, including the extraction of their organs.

This area of North Africa has been plagued by warfare for decades, especially Eritrea in their 30-decade long struggle with Ethiopia.  Countries in this region often take in asylum-seekers from their neighbors as their own people flee for their lives.

The great violence and terror currently faced by Eritean refugees is one of the greatest threats to the human dignity of refugees in the 21st Century.

In testimonies gathered by AI, captives reported the horrific violence perpetrated by their captors, which included repeated rape, sexual abuse, beatings with chains, electric shocks, suspension from the ceiling by their feet or hands often for days at a time, burning with heated plastic and metal and being doused with gasoline and set on fire.

The captors reportedly telephone their victims’ relatives at the same while inflicting violence in order to extort money, often demanding ransoms of up to $40,000 for their release.

This is a crisis of epic proportions that must be addressed as soon as possible.  The claim cannot be made that torture like this does not happen all over the world, even by major world powers, but can and should be stopped.

One of the ways to stop these horrendous acts against humanity would be to offer real protection within refugee camps.  People living in refugee camps do not find refuge or safety.  Greater planning and resources within these camps along with legal forms of protection can help change this.

A second way to help the conditions within refugee camps to address what is forcing people to flee their homeland.  In the case of Eritres, there are many specific things to chose from, but Sudan Tribune gives a good over-arching explanation of the country.

Often described as the North Korea of Africa, Eritrea’s secretive and repressive state apparatus shows scant regard for human rights, imposing strict controls on personal freedom and a policy of mandatory military conscription often for indeterminate periods. The intolerable conditions in their homeland means many Eritreans continue to make the perilous crossing to neighbouring countries, despite the risk of kidnapping and death from the regime’s shoot to kill policy.

None of this should sit well with the international community. Though many reports indicate countries like Israel and Libya have mistreated and abused Eritrean refugees (123).

This problem did not appear overnight. The capture, rape and torture, then ransom of Eritrean refugees has been happening since at least 2011 if not before.  The rising rate of kidnapping from these camps shows how little has been done to address a growing humanitarian crisis.  The international community will need to react for these heinous crimes to stop.

Are the numbers of trafficked Eritresn refugees very high? Comparatively, no, they are not.  But if this is not addressed it will grow and will not stay contained to the Sudan-Eritrea border.

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