Eritrea Refugees Detained In Sinai Desert, Group Says

Sunday, November 28, 2010

By Worthy News Middle East and African Services

CAIRO/JERUSALEM (Worthy News)-- There was international concern Friday, November 26, over the situation of 80 Eritrean refugees who rights activists said have been held hostage by people smugglers on the Egypt-Israel border for about a month.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a religious rights group, cited investigators as saying that smugglers are demanding payment of $8,000 per refugee before releasing them.

It was believed there were Christians among the refugees. Eritrean officials have arrested thousands of Christians, holding them inside metal shipping containers, barracks and underground dungeons where at least several have died from torture and other harsh conditions, church groups and rights activists say.

Most of them are believed to be evangelical Christians as Eritrea only recognizes four religious groups including Islam, the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Evangelical Church of Eritrea. However, even members of recognized religions haven't escaped persecution, according to church observers.


The refugees hold up at the Egypt-Israel border are among 600 Eritrean, Ethiopian, Somali and Sudanese nationals being held "in degrading conditions in the Sinai desert," CSW said.

"They are being threatened, restrained with chains around their ankles, and at one stage were denied water to clean themselves for 20 days." The refugees reportedly set off from Tripoli in Libya for Israel, having paid $2,000 to people smugglers.

The exploitation of asylum seekers from the Horn of Africa by people traffickers is an ongoing problem, CSW said. In August, the deaths of six Eritreans on the Egypt-Israel border were reported, four of whom were killed in a dispute with people smugglers.

"In June, ten African refugees, including Eritreans, were reportedly killed by human smugglers in Sinai after they had been held for more than two months in secret underground locations," CSW added. The smugglers are allegedly using extreme methods of torture, including electric shocks, to force the victims make the illegal payments.


CSW’s Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said it was "unacceptable that a group of people who are entitled to protection under international law are being treated in this manner. It is also difficult to comprehend how these people smugglers are able to continue holding such a large number of people hostage for such a lengthy period of time, and with seeming impunity."

CSW said Egypt's government should intervene as it is currently chairing the United Nations refugee agency's governing body and a signatory to UN and African refugee conventions.

"The Egyptian government has a duty to end this situation and bring Egypt’s treatment of refugees into line with international norms by ensuring that these and other refugees are afforded full protection and assistance," Johnston told Worthy News.

There was no immediate response from Egyptian officials.

1 thought on “Eritrea Refugees Detained In Sinai Desert, Group Says

  1. Report on the conditions of prisoners in El Arish , Romana and Ber Alabd - North Sinai
    Until 25.05.2011

    1 - the case of prisoners is a very bad mental exhaustion they endured along the way and failing to reach the appropriate destination which they want go .

    2 - the situation inside the prison extremely difficult due to lack of space and overcrowding, which results in a proliferation of different types of diseases, the most important allergies and itching of the skin, causing severe infections and the appearance of granules of bloody body parts.

    3 - humiliation against prisoners by some police officers insulted and beaten, sometimes just because they are demanding the most basic rights is out of the air and exposure to the sun outside the chambers of the prison does not have the most basic needs which suggest depression and boredom and cause shortness of breath.

    4 - told me some of the girls and women have been subjected to extortion by the police of the soldiers who carry out harassment to them and touch the sensitive parts of their bodies just to bring them nothing, even as simple as water, note that large numbers of them said to me frankly that, before their flight of Bedouin officials for smuggling to extortion, harassment, rape and repeated many times and if any one of them refused, her life has been subjected to death, causing them mental illness and neurological great.

    5 - All prisoners have spent long months in prison for periods of six months to 14 months without trial.

    6 - does not allow for the majority of the prisoners to go to the hospital to sign a disclosure League on them and also there are difficult situations and required to stay in the hospital, but police would not allow it at all, also with gunshot wounds to stay in the hospital only three days at most and then go to jail I mobility, and there aunts and one tenth of the men who are at least two of the Sudan and one from Georgia and the rest of Eritrea.

    7 - There is a case of prisoners subjected to the impact of a gunshot wound on his arm and his shoulder and could not move any part of the shoulder and needs special care and surgery, one of Eritrea.

    8 - There is one case at least has a problem in the consideration of Basra may lose if you leave without a room as a result of confinement within the prison, which increased by the degree of sensitivity.

    9 - eating one type of food for a long period of cheap candy and specifications the cause of the pain and dental caries and can cause a burning sensation on the chest and the incidence of diarrhea in some cases.

    10 - lack of water results in a lack of bathing for a long time and cause foul odors to the prisoners of the men and women, causing many diseases, and the bathroom is small and narrow and there inside the crowded room, which increases the spread of bad smells more and more.

    11 - transfer of prisoners from the prison of Al-Arish to the prison of Bir al-Abed, which lies eighty kilometers from Al Arish is difficult for the task of monitoring any violations because I am WYSIWYG I need to travel at least twice a week, which means that I can not perform my humanity to the fullest, but I will do the job whatever it costs, hardship travel.

    12 - in El-Arish hospital care is not full of people and some of them do not find doing a ray of him where I have to pay a sum of money to those who provide assistance until the currency as it should.

    13 - the patient and the patient was shot connects with iron hand and a bed in which lay him, which leads to Maip is difficult for the nurse took a blood sample from him and the witnesses of the nurses of many, and you have warned the soldiers of the police from doing it and not be repeated and shown to the dozens of pictures to prove this as well the testimony of nurses in hospital.

    14 - the morgue to no where refrigerators enough to save the dead than to have to put bodies into three bodies, sometimes in one place constraints over some of this is to the severe shortage of possibilities in addition to the lack of disinfectants in the morgue or chemicals to inject or spray the dead so as not to come out of them unpleasant odors .

    15 - the legal procedures are very slow, where he graduated reports of autopsies after weeks and months, not on the same day and preview the bodies are randomly in the writing of reports and non-audit in the areas affected by the body and write anything This is because of the lack of checking also that the body unidentified.

    16 - Supposed to be no legal action preserves the sanctity of the dead to be buried after shooting
    can be directed by his body after Villa had appeared to him or knew his family.
    New Generation Foundation for Human Right
    North Sinai – Arish – 0020101079897
    Report by: Hamdy Al-azazy – Chairman

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