Refugees and asylum seekers are subjected to extreme violence and brutality at the hands of human traffickers in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, according to a new report by Amnesty International. The refugees, most of whom are Eritreans kidnapped from three refugee camps in eastern Sudan, are trafficked by criminal gangs through Egypt to the Sinai peninsula, where they are held for ransom. Captives whose families cannot pay for their release are often murdered, while many others die from the beatings and violence they have suffered.

Amnesty’s interviews with survivors reveal extreme levels of violence, including rape, beatings and torture of other kinds, as well as people being set on fire, their corpses left to rot in the room where other victims are held. The captors reportedly demand sums of up to USD 30-40,000 from the victims’ families in order to secure their release.

Amnesty calls on Egypt to immediately investigate the compounds in the northeast Sinai where these people are said to be held, and to cooperate with countries such as Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea to put an end to the violence. Amnesty also urges countries to promptly investigate accusations that state officials, notably from Sudan, have been involved in kidnappings from refugee camps, and to improve security in the camps.

Finally, Amnesty also calls on countries of destination, the primary one of which is Israel, to improve training of personnel in contact with migrants to recognise victims of such abuses and to respond to their needs, as well as granting them access to a fair asylum procedure.

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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 05 April 2013
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