Eritrea’s military involved in trafficking country’s children

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Addis Ababa, 5 December 2013 (WIC)- The report entitled “The Human Trafficking Cycle: Sinai and Beyond” is being presented to EU home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström in the European Parliament on Wednesday.

The report, by Dutch and Swedish researchers, Professor Mirjam van Reisen, Professor Conny Rijken and Meron Estefanos details the trafficking of refugees from the Horn of Africa who are targeted by criminal networks for extortion and exploitation.

The report, based on numerous interviews with surviving refugees, looks at the experience of refugees who have fled countries looking for safety and security.

The report concludes that between 2007 and 2012 some 25,000 to 30,000 people were trafficked, an estimated 95% from Eritrea.

Smuggled across borders by middlemen, or kidnapped from refugee camps, they are held in inhumane conditions close to the Israeli border, tortured and abused to pressure friends and relatives into paying enormous ransoms.

Many of those trafficked have died in captivity even after ransoms were paid. It estimates US$600 million may have been paid out in ransoms.

The report suggests that many Eritreans do not survive the trafficking and the torture, and calculates between 5,000 and 10,000 of the hostages have died or been killed in captivity, with children as young as two or three years old among the victims.

The report, which focuses on the journey to Sinai and what happens to the refugees in Sinai, accuses Eritrea’s Border Surveillance Unit, under the command of General Teklai Kifle ‘Manjus’, of being central to the human trafficking.

General Teklai and other senior Eritrean officers have also been identified by the UN Monitoring Group for involvement in human trafficking. (MoFA)

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