Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Arms from Eritrea smuggled into Sinai, Gaza - Israel News, Ynetnews

UN report leaked to British paper the Guardian uncovers trafficking route from Eritrean highlands all the way to Gaza Strip; claims multimillion-dollar industry funding Eritrean government
A UN report leaked to British newspaper The Guardian claims that the Eritrean regime has been the biggest beneficiary of the country's arms and human trafficking industry.

According to the newspaper, "An investigation by the Somalia and Eritrea monitoring group has uncovered a trafficking highway running from the Eritrean highlands through Sudan's refugee camps into the Sinai desert, delivering arms to militant groups, and Eritrean asylum-seekers to Bedouin gangs, who use starvation, electrocution, rape and murder to extort up to $40,000 from relatives in the Eritrean diaspora for their release."

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The UN expert group relied on witness testimonies, by which part of the arsenal smuggled from Eritrea is sold to Palestinian Islamists in the Gaza Strip.

The report further estimated that the trafficking industry, which is run by Eritrean officials in cooperation with Sudanese and Egyptian smuggling gangs, generates over $10 million a year.

According to the leaked report, "multiple independent sources in Israel and the Sinai have identified General Teklai Kifle Manjus (commander of Eritrea's western military zone) as well as a string of intermediaries, as being directly responsible for the cross-border smuggling of humans and weapons from Eritrea.

"The weapons are generally described as Kalashnikov-pattern assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. Many bear the inscriptions of the Eritrean military units to which they previously belonged," it stated.

UN sources told the Guardian that the extent of corruption required for the operation and the large number of asylum-seekers it involves, suggest that it would be impossible to run it without the involvement of government officials. "If it hasn't come to the president's attention, I'd be very surprised," the source said.

In response to the leaked report, Eritrea's ambassador to IsraelTefamariam Tekete Debbas dismissed the allegations, telling the Guardian that "if they can give 100% evidence, then this guy (Manjus) will be in jail in Eritrea. It is the same with the (accusations of) human rights abuses. Where are the facts? One lie is repeated so many times it is like a truth," he said.

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