Global perspective Human stories

Sudan: UN strengthens support to combating human trafficking, smuggling

A human trafficking awareness billboard.
IRIN/Mohamed Amin Jibril
A human trafficking awareness billboard.

Sudan: UN strengthens support to combating human trafficking, smuggling

The United Nations refugee agency is working with the Government of Sudan and partners to reduce the number of kidnappings and incidents of trafficking and smuggling in, through and out of the country.

“Those most vulnerable are the newly arrived asylum-seekers, mainly of Eritrean origin, who cross the border into Eastern Sudan,” according to a joint news release by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The strategy, which strengthens the capacity of the Government, also provides care and psychosocial support for victims, and builds awareness of risks among the families in camps and urban areas.

The programme, supported by donors from Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United States, has already been involved in workshops for participants from the national refugee commission, as well as police, security, the judiciary, and civil society focusing on refugee law and protection needs.

In addition to additional police stations and increased police presence in refugee camps, a border assessment has been conducted.

A sharp drop in reported incidents – 89 cases though November of this year versus 324 reported cases during that same time period last year – has been credited to increased commitment by the Sudanese authorities to combat trafficking and prosecute perpetrators.

The incidents include reports in January 2013 that four refugee women were kidnapped from the Shagarab camps during the night and early morning. Refugees in the camp, which hosts 29,445 people, had also reported the kidnapping of a refugee man the previous week.

In anger at these incidents, some refugees attacked members of one of the local tribes who they thought were responsible, and the ensuing violence left several injured among the host population and the refugees.

At the time, UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming said that the main actors responsible for smuggling and human trafficking from eastern Sudan into Egypt were local tribesmen in eastern Sudan and in the Sinai, as well as some criminal gangs.