Cairo & Khartoum have hands in trafficking & torture of Horn of Africa citizens

13 Feb

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory
By Gerry Simpson

Mesfin fled his country in early 2012 in the dead of night. Eritrea’s repressive regime had forced him, like tens of thousands of other men and women there, to become a soldier at 16, with the prospect of lifelong involuntary military service. He fled his barracks but was caught.

After eight years in prison, he had escaped. Dodging border guards with shoot-to-kill orders, he headed for neighboring eastern Sudan, seeking a safe haven.

He was not the only one. Since 2004, at least 130,000 Eritreans – an average of 35 every day – have crossed to Sudan, fleeing indefinite conscription, torture, enforced disappearances and religious persecution. Tens of thousands more have fled to Ethiopia. So appalling is Eritrea’s rights record and its repression of its own people that in 2012, 90 percent of Eritrean asylum seekers who did manage to reach a safe place worldwide were recognized as refugees or given other protected status.

But little did Mesfin know that his ordeal would only get worse when he fled to Sudan. Much worse.

He described to me how just after he crossed the border, Sudanese police intercepted him and took him to a police station. He asked to be taken to one of the nearby refugee camps, but instead the police sold him and two other Eritreans to Sudanese traffickers. In some cases with the collusion of Sudanese security forces, at least hundreds of other Eritreans have been kidnapped by traffickers in recent years in eastern Sudan. Mesfin said he was forced, under threat of violence, to call relatives abroad to raise thousands of dollars. His relatives paid up, but he was not freed.

The Sudanese traffickers bundled him into a pickup truck with 20 other Eritreans and drove him north, to the Egyptian border, where they handed the group over to Egyptian traffickers. They drove him to a house where Egyptian security officers forced them into their trucks and then transferred them into a civilian truck, which headed for Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

I have documented how some Egyptian security forces collude with the traffickers, at checkpoints between the Sudanese border and Egypt’s Suez Canal, at the heavily policed canal or at checkpoints manning the only vehicle bridge crossing the canal, in traffickers’ houses, at checkpoints in Sinai’s towns, and close to the Israeli border.

Read the full article here

%d bloggers like this: