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2014 (Narrative date)


There are an estimated 518,000 people living in modern slavery in Egypt, 465,000 in Sudan and an estimated 451,000 in Eritrea (GSI 2018). Since 2006 tens of thousands of Eritreans fleeing widespread human rights abuses and destitution have ended up in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Until 2010, they passed through Sinai voluntarily and generally without any problems and crossed in to Israel. However, since then, Sudanese traffickers have kidnapped Eritreans in eastern Sudan and sold them to Egyptian traffickers in Sinai who have subjected at least hundreds to violence in order to extort large sums of money from their relatives.

Jemal* fled Eritrea and crossed at night to Sudan near Hafira in September 2011. There he met a farmer who let him stay the night and said he knew people who could help him go to the Kassala refugee camps. He was then taken by five men with guns, tied, beaten and held for ransom for two months.

The next day five men in civilian clothes with guns arrived and drove me away. They tied my hands together and beat me. They held me for two months with little food or water. They asked me whether I had relatives in Israel or the United States and told me to call my relatives and ask them to pay $4,000 to have me freed.

They handcuffed me to a bed. Many times four men beat me with wooden sticks on my hands and legs, on my buttocks and on the soles of my feet. Sometimes they whipped me with an electric cable and they often slapped me. After two months they transferred me to other kidnappers who drove me in a large group to Sinai.

*name given

Narrative provided by Human Rights Watch in their report “I Wanted to Lie Down and Die”: Trafficking and Torture of Eritreans in Sudan and Egypt