By BosNewsLife Middle East with BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos
CAIRO, EGYPT (BosNewsLife)– Egypt said Saturday, December 11, it had no information on reports that hundreds of Eritrean and other African hostages, including Christians, are being held by people traffickers in the Sinai Desert.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit spoke a day after on-line news agency BosNewsLife cited a report from well-informed advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) that at least 250 Eritreans and other refugees from Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia are held for over a month “in degrading conditions.”
Around 100 of the 250 Eritrean refugees held “by Bedouin people traffickers” in the Sinai Desert “were been moved overnight,” to other dealers for failing to make all payments, CSW added.
Abul Gheit said “whoever has proof should come forth” and share the information, dismissing as unacceptable unsubstantiated reports “from any foreign, European or religious” source.
The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees also said it was concerned that about 250 Eritrean migrants were believed to be held hostage in the Sinai desert.
“We have noted media reports that the traffickers are demanding payments of 8,000 dollars (6,040 euros) per person for their release, that people are being held in containers and are subject to abuses,” a statement in Geneva said.
Gheit said however that authorities are only aware that “a group of Eritreans tried to enter Italy (illegally) from Libya and were returned there and after that some of them infiltrated into Egypt.”
Security officials said earlier this week that 82 Eritreans and Ethiopians were arrested north of Suez city overnight as they were heading to the Sinai by bus en route to Israel to look for work, French News Agency AFP reported.