Eritrean youth in the diaspora make targeted calls to villages affected by trafficking in the Sinai.
(29-07-2012) Tens of Eritrean youth volunteers, from the Arbiharnet (Freedom Friday) initiative, spent three days making targeted calls into towns and villages in Eritrea in an attempt to contact Eritrean people living in areas where most of the victims of trafficking hail from.
The main objectives of these calls were to show solidarity with Eritrean victims of trafficking and call on their families and neighbors to begin to collectively think about a communal solution to the tragedy.
Refugees who became victims of trafficking, after fleeing from the towns and villages targeted, and their vicinities are being forced to pay up to $20,000. The money is extorted amidst threats of organ harvest, torture and barbaric sexual abuse, by Bedouin traffickers who seem to run a trafficking ring with links in Eritrea, Sudan and Egypt. Many villagers have sold all their belongings and livestock and borrowed more money than they could ever earn to secure the release of loved ones.
Recent reports by a UN Monitoring Group, has named an Eritrean army official, General Teklai Kifle ''Manjus'', as central to these trafficking rings. In their calls to Eritrea, volunteers highlighted these issues and were able to convince nearly everyone that was contacted to begin to organise community based discussions in a search for solution.
One elderly woman openly discussed the fate of several young people in the village who became victims of Sinai trafficking and wondered why the government doesn’t do anything about it, when told by the ArbiHarnet volunteer that it is precisely because the government isn’t doing anything, possibly because senior officials are implicated that the people should get together and seek a solution, the woman agreed to tell to all her friends and family and she wished the initiative success.
Those who made the calls were surprised by the fact that many on the other end knew about the initiative, which has been making similar calls into Eritrea since February. To date ArbiHarnet has made 22,000 calls, 20,000 of which were via robocalls that reached thousands of Eritrean homes and businesses randomly selected from a database.
1. ArbiHarnet (Feedom Friday) is an initiative coordinated by Eritrean youth in the diaspora with the aim of narrowing the gulf between the resistance to the government of Eritrea in the diaspora and inside the country.
2. One of the objectives of the initiative is to encourage Eritreans inside the country to identify communal responses to the dictatorship that has caused thousands of Eritreans to become refugees and prisoners.
3. ArbiHanet is an independent initiative inspired by the Arab Spring Revolutions.