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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.

Amanuel*, fled to Sudan in November 2011 but was intercepted by police who handed him over to Sudanese traffickers. After holding him for a month in Sudan, they transferred him and dozens of other Eritreans in a medium-sized Mitsubishi pickup truck. The police told them to sit down and covered them in plastic sheeting.

They told us when we reached Egypt. Then we went through three police checkpoints. We could see them through gaps in the plastic. The police had lighter faces than the Sudanese so we knew they were Egyptian. They were wearing green and caps. They never looked under the plastic. Each time, they searched all the other cars but not ours. They just let us pass.

*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