ICER  Action Alert: Ransom at Sinai reached 60,000 USD

April  7, 2012

Volume 2012,   Number 10

*On April 2, 2012, a boat carrying over 120 African refugees capsized in the Mediterranean Sea killing 11. Four of the victims are known to be Eritreans. So far their name is not released.

*Two persons from the United Kingdom have revealed that their loved ones are held hostages in Sinai or presumed lost after paying ransom for their release. One claimed to have paid 150,000 Nakfa through the ‘good office’ of Wedi Batsie (ወዲ ባጽዕ), but again instructed to add 45,000 USD. The second person relate the same story but with a twist that the whereabouts of her brother is unknown, i.e, after paying 150,000 Nakfa. Wedi Batsie (ወዲ ባጽዕ) ‘reassured’ the lady to call her soon after getting some facts regarding her brother.

Unsubstantiated report indicates that as many as 700 Eritreans has been kidnapped with collaboration of Wedi Baxie (ወዲ ባጽዕ) and sold to Abu Abdellah (አቡ ዓብደላ) the notorious criminal whose hand is soaked with Eritrean and Sudanese blood. The ransom money has now reached 60 000 USD.

*A source from Tel Aviv confirms that four of his brothers and cousins were kidnapped by Rashaidas from Forto Sawa(Eritrea) on their way to work in a farm. Another unsuspecting youth whose brother is an Israeli residence was kidnapped from Gramaica (Eritrea) on his way to the Sudan. All were asked to pay 4000 USD for safe exit to their ‘destination’. Unfortunately, after paying the amount demanded on them they were sold to another human trafficker who is asking yet 30,000 USD for their safe conduct to Israel. We suspect that Wedi Batsie (ወዲ ባጽዕ) is connected to all this kidnappings’ or at list involved with the transfer of money acting as a middleman.

*Radio Erena as well as a member of ICER who talked to 22 hostages in the Sinai were able to learn that the going price for their release has reached 45,000 USD. The same amount of ransom money was asked on 27 others confined in an adjoining room in the camp managed by Abu Abdellah. Among the hostages six are women and 3 children between the ages of 7 months and 10 years.

Unconfirmed figure indicates that there could be as many as 2000 hostages held in Sinai at this moment.

*According to EPDP monthly tabulation report on Eritrean refugees in the month of February alone 2661 new Eritrean Refugees reported to shelter camps in Eastern Sudan. ICER believes that an equal number might have reported in the Ethiopian refugee camps as well

*ICER source from Sudan indicates that 30 Eritrean refugees kidnapped by Rashaida human traffickers in the outskirt of Kessela are rescued by Sudanese security forces. They are now safe and sheltered in a UNHCR camp constructed for new arrivals. Meanwhile the 3 Rashida kidnappers are held for their criminal activities and officials in Kesela and the UNHCR office has promised to bring them to Justice. On the other hand, Eritrean and Sudanese observers of the case doubt very much that any criminal proceedings will be taken against the Rashidas who normally find their way out of such minor hitch through bribing government officials in the Sudan.

*There are over 400 Eritrean refugees incarcerated in Djibouti accused of crossing the border illegally. The government of Djibouti does not accord protection to persons of Eritrean decent entering its territory on the ground that they are security risk and therefore need to be confined in desolate area of the territory. ICER believes they deserve the protection accorded to them by the 1951 Convention on Refugees. In addition few apprehended during the recent Ertro-Djibouti armed confrontation are held in an abhorring condition contrary to the Geneva Convention of 1929 regarding the treatment of Prisoners of War. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is legally responsible to advocate for their fair treatment.

*In Sabah, Libya where fratricidal war is in progress 11 Eritreans are living in hiding in an abandoned farm house in the outskirt of the city while 14 are presumed lost. ICER has notified UNHCR and ICRC of the case.

*Based on the telephone conversation made with Eritreans in Yemen in early April 2012 there are about 20 Eritreans among them 5 women and 6 children ranging from age 4 to 15 years in the Hodeida prison. We have requested the UNHCR office in Yemen (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) to treat the persons as refugees and protect them from arbitrary detention by the Yemeni authorities.

*Similarly, a judgment has passed over 9 Eritrean in the Ukraine to be deported to Eritrea. There is a concerted effort by the American Team, a refugee service organization and ICER to halt the deportation. According to UNHCR personnel the deportation will be suspended pending facts on the case.