80 Eritrea Refugees Held Hostage on Egypt-Israel border

80 Eritrea Refugees Held Hostage on Egypt-Israel border

Āsmara : Eritrea | Dec 06, 2010 at 12:14 AM PST
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Eritrean President, Issayas Afewerki

Right Activists is Eritrea have raised international outcry over the situation of 80 Eritrean refugees who they said have been held hostage by people smugglers on the Egypt-Israel border for about a month.

Bos News Life (BNL) Middle East and African Services (http://www.bosnewslife.com) report said that Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a religious rights group, cited investigators as saying that smugglers are demanding payment of $8,000 per refugee before releasing them.

According to the report, here are Christians among the refugees. Eritrean officials have arrested thousands of Christians, holding them inside metal shipping containers, barracks and underground dungeons where at least several have died from torture and other harsh conditions.

‘Most of them are believed to be evangelical Christians as Eritrea only recognizes four religious groups including Islam, the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Evangelical Church of Eritrea. However, even members of recognized religions haven't escaped persecution, according to church observers,” it stated.

The report said the refugees hold up at the Egypt-Israel border are among 600 Eritrean, Ethiopian, Somali and Sudanese nationals being held "in degrading conditions in the Sinai desert."

"They are being threatened, restrained with chains around their ankles, and at one stage were denied water to clean themselves for 20 days. The refugees reportedly set off from Tripoli in Libya for Israel, having paid $2,000 to people smugglers,” it added.

BNL noted that the exploitation of asylum seekers from the Horn of Africa by people traffickers is an ongoing problem and that in August, the deaths of six Eritreans on the Egypt-Israel border were reported, four of whom were killed in a dispute with people smugglers.

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Eritrea protest
Eritrea-protest courtesy Release International
Success Uchime is based in Dumaguete, Central Visayas, Philippines, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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