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Human traffickers active in Sudan’s Red Sea

December 29 - 2015 RED SEA STATE
Illegal migrants who were abandoned in the desert by human traffickers gather at a military building in the northern Sudanese city of Dongola, May 2014 (AFP)
Illegal migrants who were abandoned in the desert by human traffickers gather at a military building in the northern Sudanese city of Dongola, May 2014 (AFP)

The national Beja Congress party expressed its concern about the spread of human trafficking from Kassala and El Gedaref to Red Sea State.

Beja Congress leader Abdallah Mousa told Radio Dabanga today that the government lacks control over the rampant security situation and corruption in the border states of eastern Sudan. Human trafficking was confined to Kassala and El Gedaref, he said, but smugglers have expanded their smuggling activities to Red Sea.

“Human trafficking was previously only related to refugees from neighbouring countries. Now Sudanese citizens are also affected by it,” Mousa said, pointing to the rising number of kidnaps in eastern Sudan.

He criticised the government for not making enough effort to fight human trafficking, and that corruption is a major weakness. “Gangs of human smugglers have financial advances, and weapons and vehicles. Criminals are known to the authorities.”

“Not only refugees; Sudanese citizens are also affected by the spread of human trafficking”

Last week, human trafficking gangs kidnapped two young men and a girl from Red Sea State, and demanded their families to pay SDG60,000 ($9,800) ransom for their release. One of the kidnapped was released after his family came up with SDG20,000 ($3,255) for the gang. “They had held them somewhere south of Tokar area,” a family member explained.

Increase in kidnapping

The kidnapping and trafficking of refugees and Sudanese in the eastern parts of the country increased significantly this year. International organisations earlier referred to the involvement of Sudanese army and security officials in the human trafficking.

A delegation of the US Embassy in Khartoum and the National Committee for Combating Human Trafficking visited Kassala at the beginning of this month, in an attempt to curb the human trafficking in the state.

Kassala locality is widely known as a crossing point for refugees from Eritrea and Ethiopia and as a hotspot for human trafficking. The refugees are abducted and ‘sold’ to criminal gangs who subject them to torture in order to pressure their relatives to pay large sums of money for their release.

Other countries including the United Kingdom and Germany, along with the European Union recently agreed to help Sudan fighting human trafficking and prevent migrants from the Horn of Africa to enter Europe. Germany earmarked €12 million for projects aimed at stemming the illegal immigration in the beginning of December.

“More cooperation between Sudan and the EU is needed to protect asylum seekers, improve border management, confront smuggling, and provide meaningful alternatives to the migrants and the host communities,” said Ambassador Tomas Ulicny, Head of the EU Delegation to Sudan, in a statement on 22 October.

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