Sister Azezet Kidane has received the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Heroes Award.
On June 19, 2012, Sister Azezet Kidane, originally from Eritrea, a Comboni sister living in Jerusalem, received the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Heroes Award. Sister Azezet was recognized for her extraordinary contribution in exposing and leading, together with Physicians for Human Rights in Israel, a campaign aimed at raising awareness worldwide of the systematic trafficking, kidnapping, and torture of refugees in the Sinai Desert prior to their entry into Israel. The granting of the award coincided with the annual release of the State Department’s annual Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report.
Sister Azezet Kidane said: “Over the past two years, hundreds of asylum seekers, victims of torture and trafficking, have shared with me, their voices trembling, the unbearable stories of physical and emotional pain endured at the hands of smugglers in the Sinai Dessert. No human being should ever have to hear the shocking testimonies I gather daily at Physicians for Human Rights-Israel’s Open Clinic. Even at this very moment, asylum seekers are being forcibly detained, tortured, and killed in Sinai and the world is not doing enough to save them from these horrors. We at Physicians for Human Rights-Israel are doing all we can to help these victims, but our efforts are not the solution. They need help, and we cannot turn our backs on them. I hope recognition from this award will give voice to the victims and bring about international action and cooperation that will ensure treatment for the victims in Israel and the dismantling of the smuggling and torture camps in the Sinai Desert.”
By way of these interviews, PHR-Israel has learned that 59% of new Clinic patients have been exposed to torture and/or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment by smugglers in the Sinai Desert. 81% of Clinic patients report being chained or held captive in Sinai, while 39% report being exposed to torture or the death of another person on their way to Israel. 11% of our patients exhibit scars on their bodies, and approximately 178 of our patients have reported being shot at while crossing the Egypt- Israel border.
Sister Azezet is an active member of the Coordination Commission for pastoral work with migrant workers and asylum seekers of the Latin Patriarchate. Thank you for your courage!
(Information from PHR)