Monday, February 4, 2013

Kidnapping of Eritreans in Sudan

Eritrea/Sudan: Eritrea's biggest opposition group and the UNHCR both called for urgent action to stop the rising abductions and disappearances against Eritrean refugees and other asylum-seekers sheltered at Shagarab refugee camp in Eastern Sudan. 

Unity Analysis: Excluding unconfirmed cases, the UNHCR has documented the disappearance and kidnapping of 551 Eritrean refugees in 2012 alone, an increase of 500% from the previous year. Eritrean refugees who arrive at the border in neighbouring Sudan are increasingly being kidnapped for ransom, sexual exploitation, forced marriage, forced labour or for extraction of their organs. The kidnapping, smuggling and human trafficking is carried out by a highly organised network that stretches from the borders of Eritrea to refugee camps in Sudan and the Sinai peninsula in Egypt. They are generally transferred to Sinai where they are sold to Bedouins, or they are held for ransom by different militant groups across the network looking for funding. These groups are known to directly try to extort money from them or their families with ransoms reported to reach up to $40,000 USD, mainly from the relatives in the Eritrean Diaspora. It is estimated that these industry generates more than $10m a year. 

According to the UN refugee agency, the Shagarab camp currently hosts almost 30,000 people. The latest incident reported was on 22 January, when armed men abducted five Eritrean refugees from Shagarab camp.  

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