Tomorrow (weather permitting) I hope to be attending Peacefest – an event to show support and solidarity with Cardiff’s Eritrean community. Until recently I knew nothing about Eritrea or the trafficking horrors that many Eritreans are facing. Then I read this article by EA Wales:
Evangelical Alliance Wales today 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 the ransom is not met.
The ongoing abuse, condemned by the international community, is also directly impacting the Eritrean community living in Wales: Berhane*, a refugee 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”
Jim Stewart, Public Affairs and Advocacy Officer for Evangelical Alliance Wales said; “The Eritrean community is very hard-working and has suffered enough with the ongoing instability in their country. We need to do all we can to raise awareness of their appalling treatment in Sinai and to see the kidnapping brought to an end.
* not his real name
You can read the EA article here.
Further to the EA article I read a further article by Christian Solidarity Worldwide which gave further shocking insight into the suffering of Eritreans at the hand of Bedouin traffickers in the Sinai. You can read that article here.
Please pray for the Eritrean people and also that I, along with others, might be able to be a blessing and encouragement to Cardiff’s Eritrean community tomorrow.