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‘Sudan's top officials cooperate in human trafficking’: report

December 5 - 2013 KHARTOUM

Thousands of Eritrean, Darfuri, and Ethiopian refugees are sold to human traffickers with the involvement of high-ranking government officials in Sudan, according to a report The Human Trafficking Cycle: Sinai and Beyond, compiled by European researchers, published on 4 December.

As recently as last month, officials handed over asylum-seekers from Shagarab refugee camp near Kassala to human traffickers of the Rashaida and Hidarib tribes in East Sudan.

The traffickers illegally transport the refugees to Sinai, Egypt, where they are kept in appalling conditions facing torture and rape. The kidnappers ask a ransom for the release of these people from their relatives.

The report concludes that: “A significant proportion of refugees were kidnapped from within the refugee camps run by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), especially in Sudan (from Shagarab refugee camp, ed.). The refugees, Sudanese and Eritrean nationals, were brutalised by smugglers from the Rashaida tribe, whipped, beaten or forced to do domestic labour.

Sudanese officials

“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.”

The principal leaders in the human trafficking system in Sudan are identified as Mabrouk Mubarak Salim and Hamid Abdallah, described as a wealthy Khartoum-based businessman who has ties to border police monitoring the Sudan-Eritrea border.


The steps of kidnapping are described in the report, from repeated payments and moving of the refugees, up to the final ransom asked from the relatives. Children have to call their parents and ask them to pay up, or they will be sold to the Sinai.

From Sudan the kidnappers drive until they reach Egypt. There they wait for vehicles to drive them to the Suez Canal, which they all have to cross.

Sudan is a transit country for women (including Eritreans) recruited for work in domestic labour in the Middle East. The report is very much concerned with the allegations of young children being the victims of all forms of trafficking. They are forced into working as beggars, child soldiers or prostitutes.


In November 2013, new abductions were reported from within the Shagarab refugee camp. In January 2013, UNHCR reported seeing “rising incidents of abductions and disappearances of mainly Eritrean refugees, allegedly involving border tribes, in Eastern Sudan. Over the last two years we have seen people disappearing from the Shagarab camps.” The report states that if the UNHCR cannot secure the camps, these camps should be closed or moved to safer places.

Sudan is not a party to the UN Trafficking protocol. It is reported that no action was taken against government officials. To counter trafficking, the Sudanese government has increased the presence of police in Shagarab III refugee camp by ten police officers. 

File photo

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