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Eritrean Refugees Trapped And Tortured At The Sinai Desert


Addis Ababa, Since Europe closed its borders in 2006, thousands of Eritreans try to flee their repressive country to Israel by crossing the Sinai desert. But there, many are kidnapped by Bedouins and taken to one of the hidden camps where their families are then extorted for ransom.

Swedish-based Eritrean radio host and human rights activist Meron Estefanos publishes the stories of these camps while recording hostages' live pleas for help.

Estefanos produces her radio programme "Voices of Eritreans" from Stockholm. The weekly broadcast is devoted entirely to the hundreds of Eritrean refugees held hostage in wretched conditions in the Sinai desert.

The Bedouins have held sway in the desert ever since the Egyptian revolution, so they kidnap Eritreans making their way to Israel (as a gateway to the West) and demand large ransoms from their families.

We follow Estefanos in her attempts to turn the tide by making telephone contact with hostages and kidnappers alike during her radio show.

The film focuses on the stories of two hostages in particular. Hariti was pregnant when she got kidnapped. We hear the young woman in a desperate phone conversation with Estefanos, and also with her husband Amaniel in Tel Aviv. He is frantically doing everything he can to free his badly abused wife and their baby from this hellish torture camp.

Meanwhile, in a second case, the ransom for 20-year-old Timnit has been paid, but no-one has heard anything from her since her flight to the Egyptian-Israeli border 18 months ago.

The battle for Hariti's release and the search for Timnit take Estefanos to Sinai. There, she witnesses firsthand the scars left by the many atrocities and the struggles of those families held hostage by this ongoing nightmare.