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

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

At Boston Bombing Hearing, Sides Spar Over Boat

At final pre-trial hearing, lawyers for suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, prosecutors disagree on whether vessel where he hid from police can be shown to jurors More

Iran Judiciary 'Picks' Lawyer for Detained WP Reporter

Masoud Shafii has been attempting to secure official recognition as Rezaian’s attorney, but is not allowed to see his client in prison More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

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