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272 Chapter 7 The Trauma of Survivors of Sinai Trafficking Mirjam Van Reisen, Selam Kidane & Lena Reim There is no sleep, I hardly sleep: when you lie in bed you first start thinking about everything that has happened to you. Your journey, the pain, the hardship, everything comes to you. [...] Then you start thinking about your family and friends who rescued you, how much debt they incurred, what hardship they are going through, how stressed they must be right now. (Interview, Kidane with D, face-to-face, September 2015) I am one of the ones who suffered the most, but no one cares, no one wants to help me. My suffering continues, there is no end [...]. (Interview, Kidane with Z2, face-to-face, September 2015) You wish they’d beat you or starved you instead, anything is better than being raped by many men. (Interview, Kidane with X, face-to-face, September 2015) Introduction Human trafficking for ransom was first identified in the Sinai in 2008 (Physicians for Human Rights, 2010a; Carr, 2011; Van Reisen, Estefanos & Rijken, 2014). This new form of trafficking involved “forced begging under pressure of torture and threats of killing, in exchange for the release of the hostage” (Van Reisen & Rijken, 2015). The origin and evolution of this phenomenon is described by Van Reisen et al. (2014) and Van Reisen and Rijken (Ibid.), referring to the work of Physicians for Human Rights, based in Tel Aviv, Israel, 273 which first documented Sinai trafficking in 2010 (Physicians for Human Rights, 2010a), and Carr (2011). The work of Physicians for Human Rights is important for several reasons. Based in Israel, the doctors from this organisation received and treated the first victims of Sinai trafficking. Their studies cover the extensive scope of the traumas endured by the victims of Sinai trafficking. In fact, the large volume of patients presenting with severe trauma from torture and women requesting abortions alerted these medical doctors to the problem, prompting the first investigation into human trafficking in the Sinai (Agenzia Habeshia et al., 2011, Physicians for Human Rights, 2010a, 2010b, 2011). An Eritrean volunteer Catholic nun, Sr Azezet Kidane, interviewed over 1,000 victims of Sinai trafficking and documented their stories, identifying the trauma they had experienced. She was honoured for her work in 2012 by the US State Department who presented her with the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Heroes Award (Physicians for Human Rights, 2012). The work of Sister Kidane and Physicians for Human Rights constitutes the first extensive description of the trauma of Sinai victims: Interviews and testimonies include chilling accounts of their journeys into Israel. By way of these interviews, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel has learned that 59% of new Clinic patients have been exposed to torture and/or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment by smugglers in the Sinai Desert. 81% of Clinic patients report being chained or held captive in Sinai, while 39% report being exposed to torture or the death of another person on their way to Israel. 11% of our patients exhibit scars on their bodies, and approximately 178 of our patients have reported being shot at while crossing the Egypt-Israel border. (Physicians for Human Rights, 2012) The work of Physicians for Human Rights is also important because it was the first description of this new form of human trafficking. However, in the early work of Physicians for Human Rights, the connection to Eritrea was not made. Mekonnen and Estefanos (2012) and Humphris (2012) first linked Sinai trafficking to the serious human rights violations taking place in Eritrea, as a way 274 of explaining the large proportion of Eritrean victims of human trafficking in the Sinai. This link was further explored by Van Reisen, Estefanos, and Rijken (2012, 2014) and Van Reisen and Rijken (2015). The connection between Eritrea and Sinai trafficking is discussed in Chapters 2 and 3 of this book. The situation of human rights and ongoing crimes against humanity, as found by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea in its extensive reports of 2015 and 2016 (United Nations Human Rights Council, 2015, 2016), are discussed in Chapter 9. Van Reisen et al. (2017) describe the importance of new ICTs in the development of the modus operandi of human trafficking in the Sinai, which depended on mobile phones to extort ransoms and on mobile money to collect payments. Traffickers also depended on mobile communications for surveillance, for the organisation of the trade and to gather intelligence. ICTs add a specific element to the...


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