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.
Hayat*, a 33-year-old Eritrean man from Murki in Eritrea’s Gashbarka region crossed into Sudan in September 2011. There, traffickers held him for two months before transferring him to Sinai, where a second group of traffickers held him and about 25 others and demanded $25,000 for his release.
They blindfolded us and then tortured us every day. They gave me electric shocks on my hands and feet. They tied my hands and legs and hung me upside down and then they beat me all over my body with wooden sticks and whipped me with plastic cables. They beat me so badly, I could not stand up anymore, but then they forced me to stand all night long to increase the pain. They raped women in front of us. All I wanted to do was lie down and die.
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