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Monday, 28 November 2011

Migrants in Egypt targeted for body parts

By Paul Canning

People fleeing persecution in countries like Eritrea are being killed in Egypt for their body parts.

According to a doctor in a town on the Sudan-Egypt border quoted by South Africa's Weekend Argus newspaper, a number of “disemboweled bodies” have been discovered. Organs, especially kidneys, were missing.

A recent car crash in Sinai provided evidence. The doctor who was driving the car was killed and, inside the vehicle, officials discovered a small refrigerator containing several human organs. There is other evidence including photographs from a morgue in the Egyptian port town of al-Arish showing scars in the abdomens of refugees who did not make it.

At least 27 refugees have alleged that Egyptian Bedouin people-smugglers have threatened to steal their organs unless they or their families paid money, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) Israel says.

The Egyptian authorities are known for ignoring the treatment of migrants by traffickers and others, or, in the case of those trying for the Israeli border, actually shooting to kill. They deny the evidence of any trade in body parts.

Italian-based Eritrean agency Agenzia Habeshia provided evidence of some 300 Eritreans and Ethiopians who are being held in police stations in Aswan in Southern Egypt and in the military camp of Shelal in “inhuman and degrading conditions”.

The inter-governmental organisation International Organisation for Migrants (IOM) has listed the situation in Aswan as “very serious”.

Beatings are a regular feature of detention and political and religious refugees in particular are subjected to torture to make them sign “voluntary repatriation requests”.

IOM say that last week more than 100 Christian Eritreans who suffer religious persecution and fear for their lives in Eritrea, were beaten repeatedly until they signed.

“Refugees and asylum-seekers returned to Eritrea have been detained incommunicado and tortured upon return,” Amnesty International said. They have accused the Egyptians of denying refugees access to UNHCR.

The situation in camps run by traffickers is worse, with slavery well documented aside from the alleged, lucrative body parts trade. In the Sinai, criminals hold hostage, kill, torture, and rape migrants.

PHR Israel earlier this year published a survey based on interviews with 284 asylum seekers who made it to Israel. Some 44 per cent said they witnessed violence and/or fatalities of other asylum seekers while they were in the Sinai and the vast majority (88 per cent) stated they experienced severe hunger and food deprivation.

Many women have asked for abortions after being raped.

A leader from the largest Bedouin tribe told CNN said he was aware that rogue elements of his tribe are engaged in people trafficking, bonded labor and torture.

Several hundred Eritreans were recently released from hostage by local Bedouin police working with an NGO coalition. But authorities have been slow to act, if at all, despite being given details about individual criminals.
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