A recent expose on trafficking in the Horn of Africa exposes what many thought to be myth—the kidnapping, trafficking, torture, and ransoming of Eritrean refugees. Considered the “North Korea of Africa,” Eritrea houses one of the Africa’s governments most hostile to the free exercise of religion. Faced with indefinite periods of arbitrary detention, torture, and psychological warfare, Eritrea’s Christians have launched an exodus to flee the “most repressive nation on Earth.” In doing so, many seek shelter as refugees in Sudan, exposing themselves as targets toBedouin traffickers intent on kidnapping them to the Egyptian Sinai, where they are then held for ransom while subjected to immense physical and emotional torture.
7/11/2013 Eritrea (CBN) — From the West Coast of Africa to the deserts of Sinai, Bedouin tribes are conducting a human trafficking trade on a massive scale.
It’s no secret. The trade reaps millions of dollars and deals with human misery. It could be stopped but so far no one has dared.
“By that time I had lost sense (sensation) in both my hands,” an Eritrean torture victim told CBN News. “It was a result of the accumulated torture but mainly because (both) of my wrists were tied up so tightly, (and I was) hanged up from the ceiling for three days, the blood was cut off from my hands and the flesh started to literally drip from my hands.”
Torture in the Sinai
This man is just one victim of this widespread modern-day slavery, kidnapping, and torture trade in the Sinai desert. There are many pictures and videos of this horrible practice on the Internet.
For this story, this Christian man from the African country of Eritrea is going by “Philip,” but that’s not his real name. CBN News covered his identity for his protection.
“In some cases, we were tortured simply because we were Christians,” he told us, his chest trembling slightly as he spoke.
“Sinai was always a place for human smuggling, but since around two years ago — even a bit more — it started also to be a place of human torture,” Shahar Shoham, director of Physicians for Human Rights, told CBN News.
Shorham has documented more than 1,300 cases of torture in the Sinai. Those survivors, like Philip, made it to Israel. But most of the cases of torture are not documented.
“They torture them in horrible methods, like hanging upside down from the ceiling, like using electric shocks, like burning them on their bodies,” Shorham said.
Kidnapped for Ransom
This story begins in Eritrea, where many like Philip fled from its brutal dictatorship. He traveled to a United Nations refugee camp in Sudan. There he was kidnapped by a Bedouin tribe.
They transferred him — along with many others — through Sudan, Egypt, and all the way to the Sinai desert and their torture camps.
What happens next in these camps is diabolical.
“What they make you do is call your family and ask them for the money,” Philip explained. “Usually they will do the asking. They will say, ‘Either send this money or your brother will die or your father will die or your son will die.’ It depends on whoever is picking up the phone.”
“While you’re talking to your family they would pour molten plastic on your body so that you would scream and perhaps they thought that would persuade your family to pay or collect the money faster,” he said.
The tribesmen demand what for most poor Eritrean families is a king’s ransom.
“The ransom fees can go up to $40,000 for an individual and even $50,000, and until the ransom fees (are) paid, the people will not be released,” Shoham explained. The financial burden on the families is devastating.”