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Parties join human trafficking monitor in eastern Sudan

February 26 - 2016 PORT SUDAN
A group of refugees in eastern Sudan (A. Awad/UNHCR)
A group of refugees in eastern Sudan (A. Awad/UNHCR)

More political parties in Sudan's Red Sea State joined an initiative to monitor the issue of human trafficking and their root causes in the area, that will kick-off in the coming days.

The Sudanese Congress Party and the Hag Movement are the latest addition to the monitoring committee of El Tawasul party, the National Umma Party, the Communist Party and the Beja Congress in Red Sea.

El Tawasul leader Idris Sheidli told Radio Dabanga on Thursday that they “are in the process of monitoring the detailed information about the trafficking crimes, the entities responsible for it, and the government's role therein.

“The coming days will witness the start of intensive work in this regard, after the engagement of the representatives of the political parties in meetings.”

Sheidli said that the committee wants to prepare an awareness raising programme for people in Red Sea about the dangers of human trafficking.

His statements come one week after the European Commission announced a €100 million package for Sudan to support concrete efforts to tackle irregular migration, and the arrival of a follow-up mission from the EU to be fielded shortly to Khartoum.

Eastern Sudan is known to be a particular hotspot for human traffickers, who systematically abduct Eritreans and Ethiopians from refugee camps in the region. The asylum seekers are then ‘sold’ to criminal gangs and subjected to torture, in order to pressure their relatives to pay large sums of money for their release.

Exemplary is the release of 47 abducted refugees from Eritrea and Ethiopia by police near Kassala town on 27 June 2015. On 4 June, a representative of the UNHCR reported that unknown gunmen abducted 14 Eritrean asylum seekers near a refugee camp in the same state. International organisations earlier referred to the involvement of Sudanese army and security officials in human trafficking.

Exploitation of refugees

Earlier this month, Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG) described “the increasing desire of Ethiopians and Eritreans to migrate to Sudan”, to take residence there or transit onto other destinations. “This has prompted an equal desire among individuals, organised criminal groups and members of the armed and security forces in Sudan to engage in human trafficking.” The activist group raises questions about the Sudanese government's commitment following cases of involvement of the Sudanese Armed Forces in human trafficking.

Gathering testimonies from refugees, SDFG discovered that many refugees have become victims of labour and sexual exploitation in Sudan. “The rise in the volume of human trafficking and smuggling have led to a sharp increase in the number of Ethiopians and Eritreans in Sudan and the high supply of cheap labor in the labor market. Many employers have exploited this.” 

Read Sudan Democracy First Group's 'Human Trafficking and Smuggling: The Context and the Implication of the Sudanese Government in the Crimes' here


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