(KASSALA) - A joint Sudanese force has freed 84 Eritrean victims of human trafficking in the eastern state of Kassala following fierce clashes with their captors, reported the official news agency SUNA on Sunday.
According to the agency, the joint security force cordoned off the Karay Dirair forest in the Rifi Arab locality upon receiving detailed information before storming the area and freeing the victims.
Director of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in Kassala, Alam al-Din Hashim, said the freed victims including 51 women were in miserable humanitarian condition and have been subjected to torture and severe abuse, pointing out that 10 human traffickers were captured during the clashes.
He added the human traffickers captured the victims and demanded their families to pay ransoms, saying the victims were held captives for periods ranging from 10 days to 2 months.
“All the hostages came from Eritrea and some of them have been freed after their families paid the ransom,” he said.
For his part, the acting governor of Kassala State Abdalla Abbas has praised the security force for a job well done, saying the joint operation proved that these forces are capable of protecting the state.
He demanded the international community to bear its responsibility in providing the logistical support to enhance the continued efforts exerted by the Sudanese government to combat human trafficking and illegal migration.
Sudan is considered a country of origin and transit for illegal migration and human trafficking. Thousands of people from Eritrea and Ethiopia are monthly crossing the border into the Sudanese territories on their way to Europe through Libya or Egypt.
Last July, the Higher Committee to Combat Human Trafficking said it would develop a national anti-trafficking strategy as well as activating existing laws to counter the phenomenon in accordance with the established international standards.
In January 2014, the Sudanese parliament approved an anti-human trafficking law which punishes those involved with human trafficking with up to 20 years imprisonment.
Also, in 2014, Khartoum hosted a conference on human trafficking in the Horn of Africa, organised by the African Union (AU), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Sudanese government.
The East African nation has also forged a strategic partnership with several European countries and the EU to combat illegal migration and human trafficking.