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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs