giovedì 31 gennaio 2013

Refugee slaves, explodes the emergence of the field of Shagarab: UN report at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

Emilio Drudi

The last case is a few days ago, four young Eritrean refugees in Sudan were kidnapped in the refugee camp Shagarab. Of them do not know anything. Everything leads us to believe that, like hundreds, maybe thousands of other boys, they ended up in the hands of human traffickers. Criminal groups whose interests and whose bases are now operating from the northern borders of Eritrea and Ethiopia to Sinai, on the threshold of the border with Israel.
Just Shagarab the field from which the four girls have disappeared, in fact, has become an inexhaustible source of supply for the rampant "market" of men and women. Indeed, perhaps the main source, so it can be considered an emergency in the already huge, dramatic emergency general of refugees and migrants who escaped from the Horn of Africa, are increasingly prey to organizations that exploit their despair, sequestrandoli and making slaves. Once captured, in fact, their future is doomed. To free the kidnappers demanding a huge ransom in the last month has been reached to 35-40 thousand dollars, a figure that equates to more than a lifetime of work in the countries from which those young people, especially Eritrea, but also the 'Ethiopia and Somalia, where the average income does not reach two dollars a day. For those who can not pay there is no escape. Men are sold as arms for forced labor to private companies or unscrupulous. For women is even worse: they are designed to forced marriages or, more often, the international tour of prostitution. Not to mention the risk of ending up in the black market of organs for transplantation, offered to patients around the world by clinical complacent or that you do not ask too many questions about the "donors".

The agency Habeshia Don Mussie Zerai, which deals in particular assistance to Eritrean migrants and more generally in the Horn of Africa, denounces this situation for years to Shagarab. Now, a detailed report was presented at the Palais des Nations in Geneva also by Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Shagarab is one of the collection centers refugees oldest and largest of the eastern Sudan. Opened in 1968 close to the Eritrean border, hosts currently in three different fields nearly 30,000 refugees: 29,445 seconds the latest UN estimates. It is in the vast majority of young men and women, with a good level of education and who see in the Sudan only a transit area: their goal is to reach Europe or the West, crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa or the Sinai desert to cross the border of Israel, regarded as a European outpost. Almost all of them are victims of political persecution or, especially the Eritrean deserters or draft dodgers. Guys, that is, who want to avoid military service imposed by the dictator Isaias Afewerki and that usually takes much more than 18 months provided: often lasts for years and years, until old age, making them conscripts to life. But this their anxiety to escape from war, persecution and hunger for freedom, civil rights and the better future they hope to find in the West, making them easy victims of traffickers.

Getting a visa to travel abroad from Sudan is very difficult and requires a very long time. Even in the most obvious cases of political persecution and risking their lives if they return. So, after years of waiting in refugee camps, they rely increasingly on "smugglers" who promise to take them to pay a ticket which is around $ 5,000, up in Libya and there in Europe or in Israel through Sinai. But these guides are actually linked to gangs of robbers: Before you get ahead of the border take them captives and give them to slave traders. In recent times, indeed, criminal organizations do not even expect to be contacted: are their emissaries to bring refugees from fleeing when they cross the border of Sudan or nearby or even inside the complex Shagarab. And who does not give in to the lure of "smugglers" often is kidnapped and taken hostage. From that moment begins an endless ordeal. A fate shared by thousands of young people now.
The report of the UN High Commissioner in Geneva noted that in recent months have increased enormously the mysterious disappearances from the field of Shagarab. "Some of these young people disappeared - complaint Melissa Fleming - were seized, others have paid to be smuggled into other countries. For those kidnapped are asked for a ransom. Or are delivered to traffickers who start them sexual exploitation or forced labor. Most at risk of abduction are Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers. According to numerous reports or interviews, the main perpetrators of kidnapping and human trafficking from Eastern Sudan to Egypt are members of local tribes or of Sinai, in collaboration with criminal gangs. " Over the past two years and limited only to the Eritrean UN figures speak of 619 young people from Shagarab disappeared into thin air. Of these, 551 well in 2012, confirming a striking escalation of the phenomenon. Not to mention the children of other nationalities and an unknown number, but certainly very high, the cases reported but not confirmed.

The situation is so severe that it threatens to explode an open conflict between the refugee camp and the local population. After the kidnapping of four girls, followed a day later by that of a young refugees from Shagarab have raided some villages of the district, accusing people of being complicit or at least accomplices of traffickers. Were born bloody clashes, with many wounded on both sides. With difficulty the police managed to regain control, but the tension is such that violence is likely to erupt again at any time. The police themselves, indeed, is challenged by the refugees, who accuse her of doing nothing or of not doing enough to keep away from the fields of traffickers, the emissaries, leaving them free field throughout the area from the Eritrean border in Shagarab but also beyond, up to the Egyptian border.
Hence the report presented in Geneva by Melissa Fleming, with the call to take responsibility for what is happening is that the Sudanese authorities to international institutions. It is, first of all, to put an end to human trafficking, chasing the criminal groups that have organized and run it: some of the leaders have already been identified and marked by time, but you can not catch them and bring them to justice. Maybe because I've never really been searched. Much to feed the suspicion of collusion at a high level and parallel connections with other trades, such as arms in favor of various political groups, or terrorists or maybe just criminals, who vie for supremacy in the region.
Precisely for this reason Don Mussie Zerai has repeatedly called for the European Union, the United Nations and, ultimately, the international community, to take charge of the problem, calling for more action to the states through which the route: Sudan and South Sudan, Egypt, Israel, Libya. And to start an international entrusting to Interpol, in collaboration with various national police forces. But also to open more doors of 'Fortress Europe' to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.

With the proliferation of wars and persecutions in the Horn of Africa and sub-Saharan Africa the flow of refugees continues to grow. The Sudan has always been one of the first stages of this exodus. Almost nobody talks about it, but in the country and in the region promises a humanitarian emergency even more dramatic than at present. And the Sudan is closer than you might think: they been there almost all the refugees landed in Italy in recent years, after reaching luckily Libya and crossed the Strait of Sicily.

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