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Refugees held hostage in Sinai Desert- EveryOne Group December 17, 2010

Posted by habeshaviews in Ethiopia, What's on the News?.
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We write to draw your attention to, and to appeal for, urgent intervention in the appalling plight of hundreds of refugees from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia who are currently held hostage in the Sinai Desert by Bedouin people traffickers.

These people have been held for months on the outskirts of a town in Sinai in purpose-built containers. Their captors are demanding payment of up to US$8,000 per person before releasing them, and are subjecting them to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. They are bound by chains around their ankles, have been deprived of adequate food, are given salty water to drink, and have been tortured using extreme methods, including electric shocks, to force friends and families abroad to make these payments. The women in the group, who have been separated from the rest, are particularly vulnerable to severe abuse.

 Over the weekend the situation of these refugees appears to have deteriorated markedly. Hostages were branded like cattle, and on Sunday evening, three Eritrean men were reportedly shot dead after their families confirmed to the kidnappers that they were unable to meet the additional payments – the hostages had already paid US$2000.

 On Tuesday morning, three more hostages were reported to have died following a severe assault administered by the traffickers after a group of 12 attempted to escape. Hostages now report being beaten so badly that their backs are bloody and bruised.

   Due to a series of human rights crises, the Horn of Africa in general and the Sinai   in particular have now become major centres for people trafficking by highly organized crime syndicates. In a harrowing report recently compiled in Israel, (1) refugees recount the horrors that were inflicted on them at this purpose-built desert facility as traffickers attempted to elicit increasingly large sums of money from them, including systematic rape, electrocution, branding with hot metal, severe and sustained beatings and extrajudicial killing.

In August, AFP news agency reported the deaths of six Eritreans on the Egypt-Israel border, four of whom were killed in a dispute with people smugglers. In June, ten African refugees, including Eritreans, were reportedly killed by human smugglers in Sinai after they had been held for more than two months in these secret locations