Ransom, Collaborators, CorruptionSinai Trafficking and Transnational Networks

Each month thousands of men, women, and children flee Eritrea as a result of grave violations of human rights committed by the Eritrean government. Traveling via Sudan and Egypt, 36,000 Eritreans have made their way to Israel over the past six years, via a well-organized network of people smugglers and human traffickers. For the last two years, Israeli, Egyptian, and international human rights organizations have reported severe torture and abuse of Eritreans being held hostage in the Sinai by these traffickers. This paper describes and analyzes the transnational networks supporting and enabling the trafficking of Eritreans to Israel.

The paper is based on 159 interviews with Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers in Israel, Egypt, and Ethiopia conducted by Feinstein researchers in 2012. We document the routes taken, local and transnational actors involved, and payment amounts and methods and how these have changed over the past five years. We conclude with some suggestions about ways forward. The paper focuses only on the Sinai route, although migration from Eritrea also occurs south to other parts of Africa, west through Sudan to Libya, and east across the Red Sea.