In a desperate race against time, the Eritrean community living in the diaspora has managed to raise $41,000 demanded by Bedouin people-traffickers to buy the freedom of the girl’s family.
Ahlam, who is just eight, has already seen her father beaten and tortured in front of her.
It was when the Eritrean community heard that their kidnappers would force 19 men, all captives themselves, to rape her mother in front of the little girl, that they decided they had no option but to act.
So the community has scraped the money together.
“It will be sent to Cairo,” says Meron Estefanos, who has interviewed Ahlam and her family several times since they were captured at the beginning of January.
The interviews were carried by the Eritrean radio station Erena.
The radio operates from Paris, one of the few sources of accurate information for Eritreans, who are subjected to some of the harshest censorship in the world, according to Reporters without Borders.
The tragedy begins…
The story of this family begins when they hear that a close relative is dying in Sudan.
They crossed into Sudan legally, since Ahlam’s father is a fighter, who was wounded in Eritrea’s long war of independence, that ended in 1991.
Near the Sudanese town of Kassala they were seized by Rashaida tribesmen, who have specialised in these kind of abductions.
They were sold to Bedouin from the Sinai, which is part of Egypt.
The Bedouin took the family to an illegal detention centre in the desert, where they were held with other captives and there their nightmare really began.
Meron says she has spoken to the leader of the gang that is holding the family.
“In September last year I discussed the fate of four siblings being held by the Bedouin with their leader,” she says.
“He told me ‘I bought the four for $10,000 each. I cannot lose money on them.'”
The families of these four finally paid a ransom, and the four are now in Cairo.
A pattern of torture
The BBC has carried reports of the plight of the Eritreans being held in the Sinai desert.
Father Mussie Zerai, who leads a Rome-based refugee charity, says 400 people, mainly Eritreans, are being held for ransom by people-traffickers in the Sinai, and regularly tortured to extract a ransom.
I want to say GOd bless you to all of you guys who Are helping that little girl life.And as a comment I would say,I think it would be better to raise some funds as an emergency in case for others who might be held captive by those animals.All I’m saying is collect some money beforehand.
Reblogged this on Conflicted Voices.
This is a wonderful thing that the Eritrean community has accomplished. I would love to know which Eritrean diaspora community was able to accomplish this or if it were a partnership various diaspora communities.
Tragically, in the minds of these barbarians it will only encourage them to continue their heinous acts if they know they will continually get paid off.
Lastly, Meron seems to have a lot of connections with these evil people. I hope she is working with local authorities to use her knowledge and contacts to end this vicious cycle.
I do not doubt the kidnapping was done in co-ordination with the Eritrean government to teach a lesson to any ex-tegadeltis & present warsays that may entertain such idea of escaping to Sudan….What a shame the ¨independence¨..brought to Eritreans.Unfortunately worst is to come.
Raise ransom money is not the final solution. International community, including UN, should investigate and punish those who are involving in human trafficking and organ selling. The situation is so serious.