Home | News    Monday 15 June 2015

Rebel group says Sudan “failed” to protect Eritrean refugees

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

June 14, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – An Eritrean opposition group on Sunday accused the Sudanese government of failing to provide enough protection to Eritrean refugees who are subjected to abductions by criminal gangs from in and around Shagarab refugee camp in Eastern Sudan.

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Young Eritrean refugees in Sudan who have fled persecution in their homeland (Photo: UNHCR)

The fresh blame made by Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO) follows recent kidnapping incident against a group of Eritrean Asylum seekers in Eastern Sudan.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said last week that an armed gang group opened fire against a convoy of 49 Eritrean refugees and kidnapped14 of them including women and children.

The convoy was ambushed on Thursday near Kassala town while the Sudanese commissioner for Refugees (COR) was relocating the Eritrean refugees from Wad Sharifey reception center to Shagarab refugee camp.

Six asylum seekers have also reportedly sustained minor injuries while trying to escape from the attack.

UNHCR officials said they have then reported the incident to local authorities for investigation and urged the Sudanese government to spare no effort in apprehending those responsible and bringing them to account.

Although the UNHCR described the attackers as “unknown armed elements” escapees and other eyewitness however have spotted the assailants as members of the criminal elements of the Rashaida tribe, an armed gang group long blamed for systematic abductions and human trafficking against Eritrean refugees.

Some relatives of the recently kidnapped refugees living in Europe alleged that they have been asked to pay a ransom of $ 5,000 each for their release.

Should relatives failed to pay the stated ransom money, they said kidnappers have threatened to kill the abductees or will sell them to other gang groups.

Speaking to Sudan Tribune, Eritrean opposition officials in Addis Ababa alleged that the kidnapping and human trafficking operations of the Rashaida gangs are executed in collaboration with some corrupted Sudanese security officials.

The opposition accused the government in Khartoum of doing little to tackle the problem and also doing nothing to bring into account those Sudanese security officials involved on these wide ranging criminal activities.

The Ethiopia based opposition group (RSADO) renewed its calls on the Sudanese authorities to step up efforts to curb those rampant abductions in Eastern Sudan.

“Despite repeated calls, the Sudanese government has failed to provide enough protection to asylum seeking Eritreans in Sudan” RSADO’s spokesperson, Nesredin Ahmed Ali told Sudan Tribune.

According to Ali, Eritrean military officials are also actively involved with the Rashaida-led kidnapping and human smuggling operations.

The opposition official further alleged that the Eritrean government was behind the highly organized human kidnapping and smuggling network which stretches from the borders of Eritrea to refugee camps in Sudan and further to the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt.

The opposition group called on the international community and other regional actors to put more pressure on Sudan to ensure the safety of the Eritrean refugees.

The group stressed that Sudan should respect, abide and implement the national and international laws to protect refugees.

Every month hundreds of Eritreans cross borders to neighbouring countries mostly to Sudan and Ethiopia to escape political repression by the regime in Asmara.

However many of them are kidnapped for ransom while others fall in the hands of kidnappers and are subjected to sexual exploitation or forced marriage.

The Eritrean government argues citizens are leaving the country for economic reasons and not of political reasons.

(ST)

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