Kidnapping, Hostage-Taking and Ransoming of Eritrean Asylum Seekers in the Sinai Desert

18 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2011

Date Written: March 22, 2011


This legal opinion is written in reply to a request made by Release Eritrea on available legal recourse to tackle the recent development of trafficking in persons that has victimized thousands of Eritrean asylum seekers or immigrants. In the last decade, thousands of Eritrean youths have been fleeing Eritrea to escape unmatched political repressions. A significant number of them trek to reach Israel using smugglers that operate the route from refugee camps in Sudan to the common border of Egypt and Israel. In the last two years the smugglers have resorted to dreadful acts of kidnapping, hostage-taking, torture, rape and other sexual abuses and ransoming of Eritrean immigrants or asylum seekers in their custody. The allegations are backed by field reports, physicians who examined some of the victims, and some victims' testimonies. About 20 hours of interviews conducted with 60 victims while in a hostage situation have been audio-recorded. Three NGOs-Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Hotline for Migrant Workers and EveryOne Group – are also privy to the situation. The facts stated below do not cover the entire evidence already gathered. Facts pertaining to the background of the atrocities are documented in official documents of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The allegations demonstrate such serious violation of rights that they may amount to crimes against humanity. More publicity, more investigation and referral of the situation to relevant human rights' bodies and, in the meantime, adequate treatment of the victims seem to be appropriate actions.

Keywords: Kidnapping, Hostage-Taking, Ransoming, Eritrean, Asylum, Seekers, Sinai

Suggested Citation

Weldehaimanot, Simon M., Kidnapping, Hostage-Taking and Ransoming of Eritrean Asylum Seekers in the Sinai Desert (March 22, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Simon M. Weldehaimanot (Contact Author)

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