It is a traffic in human beings of considerable magnitude. Since 2009, about 50,000 were tortured Eritreans in the Sinai desert. Fleeing the dictatorship, they are removed at the end of their country and deported 3000 kilometers into the desert wedged between Egypt and Israel. Chained to each other, then they are tortured daily in order to grow their families pay a ransom of up to 50,000 dollars. Those who do not or who do not survive the abuse they suffer are thrown into mass graves. Allegra and journalists Cecilia Delphine Deloget investigated trafficking of human beings grows in Sudan, Libya and Yemen. Cécile Allegra is the guest of RFI.
RFI: The torture sessions are conducted in a very specific way, namely that they are conducted with a mobile phone on. Is it that you can tell us?
Cécile Allegra: Yes, the method is different. Called a close on a phone, on a laptop, and when the close wins, torture begins live on the phone. It should be understood that the Bedouin chiefs rarely take part in the torture sessions that are usually performed by small hands, which are paid to migrant and therefore torture all the more violently they need a turnover for a living.
They need family pays more quickly to release the prisoner and then take another …
Absolutely. Then the more we advance in the months of detention, torturers become more nervous, people want to get their money and they do not see their money coming torture intensifies. It should be understood that these are not people who are being tortured once a day, they are tortured every hour when they are in custody, every hour. Day and night. These are people who become a kind of boiled human flesh, they are completely raw force of torture. And when they fail to pay promptly, torturers drift into a form of madness. This is the worst atrocities that take place, including inmates often do not recover, that is to say, they die from their injuries of course.
Why such cruelty?
This is the central question of our investigation. Why do they torture them at this point? There are two answers to this question. First, it takes the specificity of the people who run the torture camps. These are Sinai Bedouin who belong to the tribe Sawarka. These are people who have been persecuted for a long time after the surrender of the Sinai to Egypt because they are people who are stuck in a no man’s land, which are traffic bothers Egypt, Inconvenient Israel.
Armed raids, kidnappings men, rape women, these are things they know. When we met with Delphine torturers, since we met, they told us: ”But listen, they put a bullet in the foot, but they heal, it is not torturers.” This gives you an idea in fact the degree of violence they themselves are able to endure.
Second element requires that inmates pay very quickly because otherwise we can not bring others. We need to regain the lead. A torturer told us: ”I all I want is to get my money. I paid for them to come, I want to make my appreciation and then they leave. I do not want them any harm, I just want my money. ”
Cécile Allegra Delphine Deloget you met traffickers, including a reformed trafficker. In the documentary, why does he say that ”Eritreans are worth gold”?
Eritreans are worth gold for Sinai Bedouins because they know perfectly well that this is the main population leakage in the Horn of Africa. Sudanese who you are in motion, Ethiopians also, Somalis, Eritreans but leave the country en masse. There are 3 000 to 4 000 per month leaving Eritrea because they are fleeing the dictatorship. Issayas Afeworki is a completely paranoid dictator, alcoholic, which traps people in military service for life. Eritreans know what awaits them when they leave military service, so they flee. And Bedouins know that Eritreans are fleeing en masse and they also know that there is a strong diaspora abroad. So they know they can get money. And it has even surprised elsewhere. The torturers would tell us: ”We had no idea it could do the same.”
How do families to raise money?
This is a disaster because Eritreans abroad are very supportive of them. They are trying to collect the money because ransoms are exorbitant. We are talking about 30,000, 40,000, sometimes 50,000 dollars per prisoner in Eritrea and no such amount unless the relatives of the regime, we will say. What makes that all the Eritrean community is mobilized to collect that amount.
Simply it’s been so long that situation lasts, the amounts collected are becoming increasingly important. Ransoms becoming saltier, so that it deconstructs an entire community living abroad. People are ruined several generations, which is a terrible thing to wear for survivors of Sinai live with the guilt of having destroyed their family financially, but also the burden to their families, relatives and friends of the family .
Where is the money being extorted from these Eritreans?
This is a very good question and it’s a great question. For now, there are only working hypotheses. First, it is used for personal gain by the torturers. And then for the rest they are hypotheses. Some experts in the region show a direct link with the jihadist cells operating in the Sinai. Finally, the last most important assumption that was raised last year by the UN is that the headquarters of the dictator Isaias Afewerki has a direct stake in the trafficking of Eritreans.
What would be something historic, because if this assumption was verified and that is what to use the UN investigators, investigators from the European Union in the coming years, it would be the first case torture outside the organized by a dictator himself walls. So a great find because it would allow him to torture the fugitives, but not on its own soil, thus avoiding international observers, and it would allow him the same opportunity to return the money within the borders of Eritrea. And it is this assumption then that at this time the subject of attention of the international community.
So they sub-treat torture abroad and is the Chief of Staff of Afeworki that is the cause of this traffic, that is to say, he would leave voluntarily flee their country?
There is worse than that, that is to say in the last year there have been documented cases where the police and the army are fetched and Eritreans themselves deported and handed over traffickers in human beings. This is a mechanism that begins to go very far.
How to explain the development of trafficking in Sinai including in particular the fact that the Sinai, the desert between Egypt and Israel is a totally abandoned area. Besides, the dealer said …
The two torturers said, ”you understand, here is a no man’s land. It has made us a buffer zone, then we were told, you get a house, you get a piece of desert and you’re doing. You live there. How do you survive that? We do what we can, so we made the traffic, so traffic of human beings as it could be traffic condensed milk, or traffic in arms, drugs. It is this type of traffic because we have no choice. ”
And what does the Egyptian government in this case?
Absolutely nothing. The Egyptian government has a very faulty position in this story as traffickers crossing the Egyptian border as they want and paying bribes moult. In addition to this, the Sinai, the Egyptian government has never conducted any search operation deported. And finally, once the survivors of Sinai are released and they come by for some miracle to Cairo, Cairo they have an extremely hard life. No one comes to their rescue. There is a strong racism against Eritreans.
One thinks of a charge of crimes against humanity behind what you’re saying. Is the International Criminal Court could address this issue?
Of course, they could address this issue and in Europe, there are activists who work there. This is mainly Eritrean activists. There Fessaha Alganesh is an Italian activist who goes there in Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, to collect evidence that restore a little every link in this terrible traffic. There Meron Estefanos from Sweden that collects testimonies, working for the European Union is trying to build a body of evidence to convict traffickers.
But it is true that they are not numerous. They are not many because we are on an issue that is transnational. You have several countries involved in the traffic with very different populations with perhaps a country itself involved, this is an extremely long investigation. And to get even The Hague, it still lacks a few steps, but it is close.
This traffic begins to grow in other countries in the region, in what proportions?
In absolutely tragic proportions. You have dozens, dozens of houses of torture in Libya already, there are also dozens Sudan, Yemen begins to get started. Wherever you have migrants from the Horn of Africa affluent, people understood: you park it, you séquestrez you torture them terribly, and they end up spitting a little money. So obviously, it’s small.
And we must not forget that if this system of torture camps spread throughout the Maghreb, we will see the Maghreb transformed into anteroom of torture before the passage of migrants across the Mediterranean. So we Europeans, we have a responsibility in how these people once they arrive in our area because they live it is not just an economic migration is treated, but it is a drama appalling.