Egypt Detains Hundreds Of Eritrean Christians, Others Kidnapped

Saturday, June 11, 2011

By Worthy News Africa Service with reporting by Worthy News' Stefan J. Bos

CAIRO, EGYPT (Worthy News)-- Hundreds of mainly Christian refugees from Eritrea are jailed or or held by kidnappers in Egypt, where they face torture, beatings and sexual assault, according to Christian aid workers who contacted Worthy News.

"The suffering of our brothers and sisters from Eritrea is unimaginable," explained Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of aid and advocacy group Barnabas Fund.

Many of the refugees tried to reach Israel, Worthy News learned Thursday, June 9. Before they reached Israel, however, the Eritreans were either halted by Egyptian security forces or by Bendouin Muslim nomads who work with human traffickers in the Sinai desert, said several rights activists and Christians with close knowledge about the situation.

There are up to 600 Eritrean prisoners in Egyptian custody and up to 200 others in the hands of traffickers, "have been less restricted in their criminal activities since the Egyptian revolution in January" ousted President Hosni Mubarak, Barnabas Fund said.


Hostage-takers reportedly demand up to $20,000 per person for their release. "If families don’t pay, the hostage is killed. There are unconfirmed reports that the captors are turning to forced organ harvesting, especially if the ransom is not paid," Barnabas Fund added in a statement.

Eritreans are reportedly also being kidnapped from United Nations refugee camps in Sudan.

Barnabas investigators said the refugees suffer "inhumane treatment, including rape, sexual harassment, torture, beatings and slavery" by "Egyptian authorities or Bedouin gangs".

Those in prison are denied medical care, suffer malnutrition as a result of meager daily rations such as a piece of bread and a tomato, and have restricted access to visitors, according to Christian rights investigators.


Christians receive more severe treatment than Muslim prisoners because of their faith, Barnabas Fund alleged. Some prisoners allegedly adopted common Muslim names in an effort to alleviate their suffering.

There was no comment from Egyptian officials, who have come under international pressure to make Christians part of the political process in the post-Mubarak era.

However Barnabas Fund acknowledged that it has been able -- apparently with permission from authorities -- to help arrange the release of three Eritreans. It added that it also paid "legal fees" to the unidentified prison to ensure that 23 other prisoners can be seen and registered by the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR.

The group said it is raising money to pay for medical expenses, including for a woman with kidney failure, as well as medicine, food, clothes and sanitary products for other Eritrean prisoners.


Additionally, four women who were abandoned in "a seriously injured state by traffickers in the Sinai desert following a car accident" are also receiving support for medical treatment and food, Barnabas Fund stressed. A fifth member of their group apparently died of her injuries.

Local Christians have linked the alleged abuse by kidnappers and even Egyptian authorities to the Christian faith of many Eritreans. They already fled persecution at home, said Sookhdeo. "They are in great danger from their government, which is one of the most severe persecutors of Christians in the world..."

In November, Eritrean church leaders as at least 1,500 Christians are imprisoned because of their faith in Eritrea. Some rights groups say as many 3,000 Eritrean Christians may be held in detention centers, ranging from police prisons and military jails to even shipping containers.

Since 2002 Eritrea only allows the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Lutheran Church, the Roman-Catholic Church and Islamic groups to operate officially, although church leaders of these traditional denominations have also complained about harassment.


Church groups say especially devoted Christians involved in evangelical worship or evangelism have been targeted. Eritrea's government has denied any wrongdoing saying it wants to protect the country against dangerous sects and bad foreign influences.

Those Christians seeking more freedom in other countries, however, now face "imprisonment, kidnap, torture, rape, beatings and even death," in Egypt, complained Sookhdeo. "They desperately need our help today."

2 thoughts on “Egypt Detains Hundreds Of Eritrean Christians, Others Kidnapped

  1. I feel for these Christians who are suffering in the hands of these bedoiuns. I cannot even imagine the horrific situation they are in.

    It is hell for any Christian to live in a Moslem society or country even as an immigrant worker. I lived in Saudi Arabia and Sudan. They tried to make me less than human for being a Christian. Things got so bad that I tried using a Moslem name to try to blend in. But the Moslems from my country Eritrea snitched on me and let everyone know that i was a Christian. My situation became even worse after that.

    My advise for any Christian, don't try to live in any Moslem country or in any place where moslems are the majority. I deeply believe that Christians tolerate Moslems than the other way around. This is the plain truth.

  2. My dearly beloved Eritrean brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus our Lord,

    I am a Greek Christian, living in Greece, away from Africa, where you are suffering.

    But as a Christian, I can feel as much as you do, the profound humiliation and pain that the Eritrean fugitives are suffering at the hand of infidels, who have never felt any mercy or compassion for anyone, not even for themselves. They have never really felt any love, because they rejected the One Who is Love, and Who came to earth to teach Love, and to die for Love, and resurrect for Love, and to save us because of His Love for us.

    Certainly, I am with you all the way, knowing that God will never forsake or forget anyone of those for whose salvation He sent His Son, in the flesh, to the world, to die and to resurrect.

    Simply, I wish to remind you of a crime that you yourselves committed, many years ago, against other Christians, against the Body of Christ, which you stabbed and abandoned, and which you left wounded on the roadside, as you merrily walked away.

    I am talking about your Ethiopian brothers and sisters in Christ, that Christian kingdom, that you fiercely fought against during decades, and which you tore apart, so that you can form another, separate country, Eritrea.

    In a certain sense, your nation is collectively responsible of this crime, because it was completed through a referendum.

    Yes I know how arrogantly Ethiopians treated you, and how they repressed your own Eritrean cultural, ethnic and linguistic heritage.

    But they were your brothers and sisters in Christ, together you were forming one big strong bodypart of the Body of Christ, and it should remain united.

    May God have mercy on you, and on us all, so that neither you, nor any other of us, will have to drink this bitter cup to the end.

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