31 August 2017

Sudan: 22 Eritrean Refugees Freed By Traffickers in Sudan

Photo: Nordic Africa Institute
Five thousand refugees leave Eritrea each month according to UNHCR, making it one of the world's fastest-emptying countries.

Eastern Sudan — Human trafficking gangs in eastern Sudan have freed 22 Eritrean refugees, including three girls, who were kidnapped in mid-August after reportedly receiving a ransom ranging from $1,500 to $5,000 per person.

Human trafficking is a perennial problem in the area, but residents of Red Sea state in eastern Sudan reported an increase in crimes concerning refugees and asylum seekers, including kidnappings, in the region. A relative of one of the kidnapped refugees told Radio Dabanga that human trafficking gangs received the group in an undisclosed area from another gang that was smuggling them from Shajarab camp to Khartoum for SDG2,500 ($375) per person.

The relative said that the gang that kidnapped the refugees was composed of four armed men wearing civilian clothes and driving a Land Cruiser.

He explained that they took the refugees to a remote village where they were detained until the ransom was paid.

He reported that the refugees were tortured by gang members. The gang forced them to contact their families for the ransom.

A week after they were kidnapped, the gang transported them to Khartoum in batches after the ransom was paid.

Increase in trafficking

Residents of Red Sea state in eastern Sudan reported an increase in crimes concerning refugees and asylum seekers, including kidnappings, in the region.

"The number of abductions for ransom is rapidly increasing in eastern Sudan," listener Ali Muneeb told Radio Dabanga this month.

Last week, an Eritrean refugee was kidnapped in Kassala. "A few days later, they phoned us and demanded a ransom of more than SDG 3,500 ($521) for her release," a relative told this station. "We have begun to collect the amount from our relatives around the world."

The police of Kassala, El Gedaref, and El Gezira held a coordination meeting in Wad Madani, capital of El Gezira, on Wednesday. The spokesman for the El Gezira state police, Brig. Hatem Osman, reported that during a combing campaign in the El Butana plains in neighbouring El Gedaref earlier this year, the state police held 75 human traffickers, cattle thieves, and arms dealers.

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