There are an estimated 518,000 people living in modern slavery in Egypt, 465,000 in Sudan and an estimated 451,000 in Eritrea (GSI 2018). Since 2006 tens of thousands of Eritreans fleeing widespread human rights abuses and destitution have ended up in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Until 2010, they passed through Sinai voluntarily and generally without any problems and crossed in to Israel. However, since then, Sudanese traffickers have kidnapped Eritreans in eastern Sudan and sold them to Egyptian traffickers in Sinai who have subjected at least hundreds to violence in order to extort large sums of money from their relatives.
Ali* escaped from Eritrea in November 2011. However, one hour after he reached Kassala police stopped him and took him to a police station, took all his money, and put him in a cell. He recalls how the police then handed him over to traffickers.
They asked me whether I had relatives abroad and I said no. The next morning, the police opened the door and there were two Rashaida standing next to them in the doorway looking at me. I speak a little Arabic so I heard a little of what they said. One of the Rashaida asked one of the policemen, “Do these men have families who can pay us?” and he said, “Yes.” The next day the police took us to a car parked outside the police station. The same two Rashaida were in the car. The police told me to get into the car and the Rashaida drove me to the desert about an hour away.
Narrative provided by Human Rights Watch in their report “I Wanted to Lie Down and Die”: Trafficking and Torture of Eritreans in Sudan and Egypt