News / Africa

Kidnappers Target Refugees in Sudan

Sudan - South Sudan map
Sudan - South Sudan map

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
Amnesty International says refugees and asylum seekers are being kidnapped in Sudan and held for ransom in Egypt’s Sinai desert. Most of those abducted are Eritrean and many have been beaten, raped or killed.


The human rights group says the kidnappings have taken place over the last two years in eastern Sudan, in-and-around the Shagarab refugee camps and along Sudan’s borders with Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Claire Beston, Amnesty’s Eritrea researcher, has been gathering testimony on the human trafficking.

She said, “The kidnappings usually take place by groups of men, who are often armed, according to reports of victims and witnesses. And people have been kidnapped in a range of situations – traveling between the camps, traveling to the local town, going or coming back from church – are some of the locations in which kidnappings are reported to have happened.”

There’s evidence indicating who the kidnappers are.

“Previous victims and witnesses frequently report that members of the Rashaida tribe, the local tribe, are involved in the kidnappings, but there are also a number of allegations of actors being involved, which include frequent reports of the involvement of corrupt members of the Sudanese security forces,” said Beston.

The vast majority of the kidnap victims are Eritrean, but there are also some Ethiopians and Sudanese.

“Former victims have reported that they are sold between different groups on the route to Egypt. In Sudan, they’re sold between different Rashaida groups, according to the testimony that we’ve received. And then usually, when they get into Egypt, or at the Egyptian Border, they are sold-on to Bedouin criminal gangs,” she said.

Once in the Sinai, the victims are forced to call family or friends with ransom demands. The kidnappers usually demand between $30,000 and $40,000. Beston said that the kidnap victims are abused while in the Sinai.

“They’re subjected to a range of really brutal treatment and violence, including rape and sexual violence against men and women, beatings, burning with hot metal and plastic. Electric shocks are used against victims. Having gasoline poured on parts of the body and then set alight. Also while held captive in the Sinai, they can be deprived up food and water and sanitation and the ability to wash and go to the toilet regularly.”

The Amnesty International researcher said ransom has been paid in a large number of cases. But there are also cases of people being killed when their families could not afford to pay.

It’s unclear just how many people have been kidnapped. The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, says in 2012 its office in eastern Sudan received 30 to 50 reports a month.  However, this figure only represents those who managed to avoid capture. Meanwhile, a leading Eritrean activist said that she’s spoken to over 2,000 kidnap victims.

Amnesty wants the Sudanese and Egyptian governments to act.

“What we as Amnesty International are calling for is that those governments take urgent steps to end the kidnapping in eastern Sudan – including putting significantly improved security measures in place in the refugee camps in eastern Sudan -- and for the Sudanese authorities to investigate the allegations of involvement of members of the Sudanese security services – and where relevant and appropriate to bring people to justice,” said Beston.

It calls on the Egyptian government to urgently investigate reports of people currently held captive in the Sinai. Many of those who are eventually released are helped by Israeli humanitarian agencies.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More