Human rights abuses in African countries have led hundreds of thousands of migrants to flee to the Mediterranean coast this year, but those who cannot pay to cross can be sold for their organs.
Many people have never heard of the small country of Eritrea in northeast Africa, but living conditions there are some of the worst on the continent. The Eritrean government?s history is one of strife and rebellion, but when the country finally gained sovereignty from Ethiopia in 1993, its citizens lost more independence than they had gained.
Eritrea is now governed by the ?People?s Front for Democracy and Justice,? a one-party system whose human rights violations led Human Rights Watch to consider the country ?among the worst in the world? when it comes to political freedoms. According to the UK website ?Human Rights Concern ? Eritrea,? thousands of Eritreans have been wrongfully jailed for exercising basic rights such as freedom of speech and assembly. These abuses extend to forced labor and sexual servitude, as well as forced military service.
This is just to paint a picture of one of several African continents whose citizens are fleeing to Libya?so that smugglers can carry them to refuge in Europe. Hundreds of thousands of migrants have made their way to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea just this year, and these numbers are only increasing. An April article by Newsweek highlighted this increase, and also how refugees seeking asylum are in danger of becoming victims of the smugglers, and of human trafficking rings.
However, that April article could not have predicted something like this.
Reportedly, eight out of ten Eritrean families have lost at least one member on the trip to Europe, Nuredin Atta Wehabrebi says. Wehabrebi is an Eritrean himself?and was arrested in Italy two years ago. He came forward with this ghastly and shocking information after being offered witness protection.
Wehabrebi told Italian police that thousands?of people ? from Eritrea, Libya, and other African countries ? who couldn?t pay for the voyage, were killed by (mainly Egyptian) organ traffickers. These people were sold for the equivalent of $15,000 and slaughtered for the sale of their organs.
Most people would pass judgment on men like Wehabrebi for their degree of involvement in these indescribable acts. However, the earlier description of Eritrea shows some of the terrors that men like Wehabrebi are running from, just to survive.
Terrors that, unfortunately, they are met with again, from the hands of those they entrusted to protect them and deliver them to freedom.
The only silver lining is that Wehabrebi?s confession led to the infiltration of a major hub of the trafficking network: unlikely enough, a perfume shop in Rome, Newsweek reports. Police took more than half a million dollars in criminal funds, and 38 suspects have been arrested so far. The suspects are mainly Eritreans and Ethiopians themselves, says The Telegraph.
A statement from human rights activist Elsa Chyrum, which she made about the state of Eritrea in general, applies here too with cutting accuracy:
?This would have been something one would expect from an enemy but never from one?s fellow fighters. This is betrayal on a grand scale?[but our people] will rise when the time for healing wounds arrives. They will not be as cruel as those who broke their promises and betrayed their future.?
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