The police in eastern Sudan’s Kassala has reported a significant increase in human trafficking and smuggling in the state.
The head of the Kassala state police, Maj. Gen. Yahya Hadi Suleiman told reporters on Thursday that at least 200 people fell victim to human trafficking in Kassala this year.
He said that the methods of human trafficking have changed. “Many traffickers now use forms of disguise and camouflage”.
He mentioned the arrest of three smugglers, accompanied by a young woman who was disguised as a man. They were caught in Kassala, when the police were searching for nine abducted young women. The traffickers immediately confessed.
The police chief added that many trafficking gangs kidnap foreigners crossing Sudan on their way to the north”, and force them to pay ransom for their release.
In September 2014, the then Interior Minister Lt. Col. Ismat Abdelrahman stated that the phenomenon is “becoming worrisome”, in particular in the eastern Sudanese states of Kassala, El Gedaref, and Red Sea, and in Darfur.
Sudanese officials have been accused of being involved in the trafficking. In December 2013, a report compiled by European researchers, The Human Trafficking Cycle: Sinai and Beyond, stated that “It appears that there is a close collaboration between Eritrean traffickers and Sudanese security, military and police officials. Members of the Rashaida and Hidarib tribes in East Sudan are also involved in the abductions in Sudan and in Eritrea”.
According to the UN Refugee agency (UNHCR), Sudan is one of the main transit countries of Eritreans and Somalis who travel to Italy by sea.
Funding by the European Commission to the Sudanese government earlier this year, to be implemented under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, contains the development aid package of €155 million, to tackle the root causes of irregular migration in the country and improve migration management processes.
Sudanese activists have claimed that the EU policies in the campaign against illegal immigration and human trafficking by providing such funds to African governments are futile. They fear that the aid package is used to tighten the grip by the security apparatus on the population.