Police in Sudan’s eastern state of Kassala have released 11 people, including a young girl, from a human trafficking gang on Tuesday.
A source within Kassala state police told Radio Dabanga that a raid by a force of the criminal investigation branch on sites at Wadsharefy south, of the town of Kassala and a few kilometres from the border with Eritrea, resulted in the arrest of five members of a gang and the release of 11 Eritrean nationals.
The source explained that the hostages were smuggled from Eritrea after crossing the border into Sudan, and were ‘sold’ by smugglers to another gang.
In October last year, the head of the Kassala state police, Maj. Gen. Yahya Hadi Suleiman acknowledged that at least 200 people fell victim to human trafficking in Kassala in 2016.
The police chief added that many trafficking gangs kidnap foreigners crossing Sudan on their way to the north”, and force them to pay ransom for their release.
In September 2014, the then Interior Minister Lt. Col. Ismat Abdelrahman stated that the phenomenon is “becoming worrisome”, in particular in the eastern Sudanese states of Kassala, El Gedaref, and Red Sea, and in Darfur.
Sudanese officials have often been accused of being involved in the trafficking. In December 2013, a report compiled by European researchers, The Human Trafficking Cycle: Sinai and Beyond (see below) stated that “It appears that there is a close collaboration between Eritrean traffickers and Sudanese security, military and police officials. Members of the Rashaida and Hidarib tribes in East Sudan are also involved in the abductions in Sudan and in Eritrea”.
According to the UN Refugee agency (UNHCR), Sudan is one of the main transit countries of Eritreans and Somalis who travel to Italy by sea.