There are an estimated 518,000 people living in modern slavery in Egypt, 465,000 in Sudan and an estimated 451,000 in Eritrea (GSI 2018). Since 2006 tens of thousands of Eritreans fleeing widespread human rights abuses and destitution have ended up in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Until 2010, they passed through Sinai voluntarily and generally without any problems and crossed in to Israel. However, since then, Sudanese traffickers have kidnapped Eritreans in eastern Sudan and sold them to Egyptian traffickers in Sinai who have subjected at least hundreds to violence in order to extort large sums of money from their relatives.
Mewael*, a 32-year-old Sudanese man trying to reach Israel travelled with smugglers to Sinai in April 2011, together with 70 other Sudanese men in a passenger bus. The group was kidnapped by Egyptian traffickers when they reached the Suez Canal.
The driver told us to get off the bus and we were told to wait in a house, about 150 meters away from the edge of the water. Just after dark, Egyptian police—in blue uniform—arrived and a little while after a boat arrived. The smugglers put 25 of us in the boat, while the police stood about 50 meters away, watching. We crossed the canal. On the other side there were three soldiers, wearing beige dotted uniforms and with small handguns, standing next to some men who looked like Bedouin. While the soldiers watched, the Bedouin loaded us into the back of two civilian pickups and told us to lie down and covered us with plastic.
Narrative provided by Human Rights Watch in their report “I Wanted to Lie Down and Die”: Trafficking and Torture of Eritreans in Sudan and Egypt