Cairo, Egypt, Dec 9, 2010 / 00:09 am
About 250 Eritrean refugees and others are being treated like “slaves” by their trafficking kidnappers, a priest in Egypt says.
As many as 300 people are reportedly being held hostage in the Sinai Peninsula. The refugees had paid Bedouin traffickers to smuggle them into Israel but were instead taken hostage. The Egyptian government is investigating and has not confirmed the claims, Agence France Presse reports.
However, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has voiced concern about media reports that traffickers are demanding payments of $8,000 per person for their release. The captives are allegedly being held in containers and are being abused.
Fr. Mussie Zerai, president of the Habeshia Agency for Cooperation and Development (AHCS), told the Italian bishops' SIR news agency that he is in contact with the captives and their situation is “dramatic.”