Welsh churches urged to stop trafficking of Eritreans

Published 28 November 2012

The Evangelical Alliance Wales has urged organisations and individuals in Wales with links to Egypt to do all that it can to stop the horrific treatment of Eritrean refugees at the hands of Bedouin traffickers in Egypt's Sinai Desert.

Many of the refugees fall into the hands of Bedouin people traffickers after fleeing their poverty-stricken country, where they are then held for ransom until friends or relatives abroad can pay.

BBC Radio 4's Mike Thompson from the Today programme conducted a chilling interview over the phone on Saturday with Philemon, an Eritrean refugee, and his Bedouin trafficker who is demanding $25,000 for his release, threatening to kill him if it is not met within five days.

The ongoing abuse, condemned by the international community, is also directly impacting the Eritrean community living in Wales.

A refugee by the name of Berhane, who has been in Wales since 2006, received a phone call out of the blue three years ago from his brother, who was being held by traffickers in the Sinai:

"He was crying," said Berhane,"his hands and legs were chained and they were beating him and he was screaming. I asked how much do they want him to pay, and he said $8,000."

Iseyas, a leader of the Eritrean Pentecostal church in Cardiff, says that even paying the ransom doesn't guarantee safety: "I know four people in Cardiff who have paid money to the traffickers to free their family members but on two of these occasions, the family members were still killed."

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