12/3/13, "Eritrea's military is trafficking the nation's children, report says," UK Guardian, Martin Plaut
"Eritrean youths are being kidnapped by senior military officers, smuggled into Sudan and held to ransom, according to a report by Dutch and Swedish researchers. The captives are threatened with being sold to people traffickers if they do not raise tens of thousands of dollars. Some are freed if they raise the ransoms. Others are sold on to Bedouin traffickers in Sinai, even after money has changed hands, only to be tortured to extract further cash from their relatives.
Basing their findings on interviews with 230 Eritreans who suffered this fate, the researchers conclude that between 2007 and 2012, some 25,000 to 30,000 people were trafficked. The report, by Meron Estefanos, a Swedish human rights activist, and Professor Mirjam van Reisen and Dr Conny Rijken of Tilburg University in the Netherlands, estimates that $600m has been extracted in this way.
In the report, The Human Trafficking Cycle: Sinai and Beyond, published on Wednesday, researchers accuse Eritrea's Border Surveillance Unit, under the command of General Teklai Kifle (alias Manjus), of being at the heart of these operations. The UN has named the general and several of his senior officers, as being involved in human trafficking, but this is the first time first-hand accounts have been published.
The Eritrean government requires every pupil to complete their final year of high school by serving in Sawa Military Camp, in the desolate, semi-desert region of eastern Eritrea. This means that most 16- and 17-year old children go there to complete their studies....
Eritreans know what such a fate holds in store: imprisonment in underground cells and systematic torture while their screams are played to relatives on mobile phones. Girls are regularly raped, sometimes repeatedly and in public. Until they can pay up, there is little hope of escape."...
12/4/13, "Thousands of Eritreans 'abducted to Sinai for ransom'," BBC
"Up to 30,000 Eritreans have been abducted since 2007 and taken to Egypt's Sinai to suffer torture and ransom demands, new research says. The study, presented to the European parliament, says Eritrean and Sudanese security officers are colluding with the kidnap gangs.
At least $600m (£366m) has been extorted from families in ransom payments, it says. Victims are kidnapped in Ethiopia, Sudan and Eritrea and taken to Sinai. Eritrea has denied its officials are involved in the kidnappings....
"[The hostages] are chained together without toilets or washing facilities and dehydrated, starved and deprived of sleep," the report says.
"They are subject to threats of death and organ harvesting... Those who attempt to escape are severely tortured."...
The UN estimates that 3,000 Eritreans fled their repressive and impoverished country each month last year.
Many headed for the swollen refugee camps of neighbouring eastern Sudan, now home to more than 90,000 people."
Comment: It would take one US politician with guts to publicize the fact that Africa remains a poor and miserable continent mainly because of the UN.