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.
Anbessa*, a 16-year-old Eritrean boy fled to Sudan in February 2012 but was kidnapped by six “Rashaida men” soon after crossing who transferred him in a group to Egypt.
When we reached a big river the Rashaida told us it was the Nile. There were already 20 other Eritreans kidnapped before us who were waiting there. They put all of us in a boat, covered us with canvas and we sailed for about two hours. There were six people with guns waiting for us on the other side. It was dark but as we got closer I could see they had lighter skin than the Sudanese, so we all knew they were Egyptians. Three were wearing jalabiyas [traditional long robes] and three were in military uniform, green jackets with spots and trousers with mixed colors including grey.
The three men in uniform stood to one side and watched while the other three beat us with sticks and forced us into the back of two red pickup trucks and covered us with canvas. I could see through holes in the canvas and I saw the three soldiers get onto the back of the pickup truck I was in.
After a while, we reached a military checkpoint and stopped. I heard people talking and we drove on. The next time we stopped, four men with guns and wearing jalabiyas loaded us all onto a big truck. I saw two of the men in uniform drive off in one of the pickups and the third man stayed with us while we were loaded into the truck. After that, I didn’t see him again.
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