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Human Trafficking in the Sinai: Refugees between Life and death

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... • Trafficking and torture victims had experienced both trafficking and torture. • Sexual violence and torture victims had experienced both sexual violence and torture, involving severe physical or mental pain inflicted by others, from rape, inhuman, or degrading treatment [10]. • Smuggling victims had paid Bedouins in the Sinai Peninsula to be smuggled into Israel. ...
... Similar risk was found in asylum seekers from various countries in Switzerland, who had experienced or witnessed torture [48]. The low rate of PTSD observed among victims of smuggling may stem from the complicated relationship between smuggling and trafficking-some incidents of smuggling turn into trafficking and some incidents of trafficking turn into smuggling [10]. It may be that being smuggled may scar the souls of asylum seekers less than previous or subsequent traumatic experiences. ...
... In our study, 76.7% of the asylum seekers reported experiencing at least one traumatic event at some point along their process of migration, which may explain why having a partner was not connected to lower distress levels. It is known that the levels of torture experience in the Sinai Desert by trauma victims from Eritrea and Sudan are extreme [10,59]. ...
Article
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Asylum seekers in Israel from East Africa frequently experienced traumatic events along their journey, particularly in the Sinai Peninsula, where they were subjected to trafficking and torture. Exposure to trauma has implications for rights that are contingent on refugee status. This retrospective chart review aimed to characterize the types of traumas experienced by 219 asylum seekers (149 men) from Eritrea and Sudan who sought treatment at a specialized mental health clinic in Israel, and to compare the mental health of trauma victims (n = 168) with that of non-trauma victims (n = 53). About 76.7% of the asylum seekers had experienced at least one traumatic event, of whom 56.5% were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Most reported traumas were experienced en route in the Sinai, rather than in the country of origin or Israel. Few clinical differences were observed between trauma victims and non-trauma victims, or between trauma victims with and without a PTSD diagnosis. Our findings emphasize the importance of accessibility to mental and other health services for asylum seekers. Governmental policies and international conventions on the definition of human trafficking may need to be revised, as well as asylum seekers’ rights and access to health services related to visa status.
... 15 Starting in 2008, hundreds of these asylum seekers were being kidnapped to "torture camps" in the Sinai by criminal networks, sometimes from places as distant as refugee camps on the Eritrean-Sudanese border. Release was granted only in return for ransom money, at times reaching tens of thousands of dollars, which had to be raised from family and friends (Nakash et al. 2015;Van-Reisan, Estefanos, and Rijken 2012;Van-Reisen and Rijken 2015). Many of those who had been through these "camps", arrived in Israel devastated, both physically and mentally. ...
Article
This article is about the intrinsic inconsistency of human actions and relations near the Egyptian-Israeli border. We consider the border and its vicinity at a time of change, when asylum seekers were crossing into Israel in growing numbers (2006–2012) and then when a fence was being built in response (2012–2014). We are basing our findings on an ethnographic study conducted between 2012 and 2018, in which we explored how different border populations – Bedouins, soldiers and asylum seekers – experienced and interpreted the changes. Our perspective shifted between scales in order to understand how global, national and local events were manifested at ground level. The findings point to the fickle conduct of actors and the border-zone: Human behavior and practice tended to change on the spur of a moment; members of groups seemingly in conflict cooperated; tagging and categorizing people according to group was tricky; and power relations between the groups were inconsistent. These findings converse with the scholarship on Nomadology and on borderlands as being in the making.
... Most Eritreans arrived in Israel between 2006 and 2012, crossing the Israeli-Egyptian border. Thousands survived violent atrocities and human trafficking in the Sinai desert (Van Reisen, Estefanos, & Rijken, 2012). By 2012, when the fence on the border with Egypt was completed, their entrance almost completely stopped. ...
Chapter
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In many cases, perceptions regarding risk for children differ between immigrant parents and professionals, since they are shaped by various factors (e.g., socio-cultural context, cultural transition, professional socialization, etc.). This disparity could risk the effectiveness of intervention and prevention programs in the field. This chapter aims to explore the views of the one-and-a-half generation of Former Soviet Union (FSU) immigrant parents residing in Israel, as well as social workers (SWs) providing social services and care for families from the FSU, regarding the subject of risk for children. Two studies, one targeting immigrant parents and the other targeting SWs, employed the qualitative approach and used semi-structured interviews with 40 parents and 16 SWs. Overall, the study with the parents showed that the risk perceptions among parents from the one-and-a-half generation are complex and hybrid and stemmed from two sources of socialization: the first are the values, norms and ways of socialization from the FSU, by which they were socialized by their parents (first generation of immigration), and the second are the values, norms and educational concepts acquired in Israel. The findings of the study with the SWs indicated that they see social isolation, a lack of access to institutional support mechanisms, parents’ alcohol consumption, the absence of emotional discourse between parents and children and the absence of parental presence with their children, as risk factors for children among families from the FSU. The chapter provides a comparative view between the parents and SWs perceptions, discusses similarities and differences between them, highlights the importance of building trust between the two sides, and indicates the need for the implementation of a context-informed perspective in the SW’s training and practice when working with children at risk.
... As noted earlier, there is a propensity for migrants to be badged as 'victims', who are exploited by 'criminal organisations' (Van Reisen et al. 2012). In this paradigm, naïve migrants are preyed upon and find themselves in vulnerable situations. ...
Article
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The increased government, media and public focus on migration from Africa to the EU in the past few years has led to an explosion in reporting from governments, NGOs, academics and quasi-academia. Within this context, there are a number of basic assumptions and discourses in relation to these migratory processes from Africa. The first assumption, often put forward by the media, is that migrants from Africa intend to cross the Mediterranean Sea in an effort to reach Western European countries. The second assumption is that in their effort to cross the Mediterranean, African migrants are facilitated by ‘criminal networks’. The third (and extremely popular in the last few years) assumption is that information and communication technologies have been instrumental in the planning of irregular migration and identifying smugglers to facilitate migration. The final assumption, which has also garnered increasing attention in recent years, is that understanding human smuggling finances can inform policies specifically targeting migrant smuggling. This article, which is based on in-depth interviews with Eritreans, who have migrated illegally in Egypt, aims to add to the understanding about how Eritrean people plan, fund and manage irregular migration journeys. In the process, it will attempt to debunk some of the common assumptions around irregular migration.
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Refugees children and families cope with the complexities and opportunities of living in a new country. Based on in‐depth interviews with Eritrean parents in Israel and the social workers who serve them, this article explores the relationship between exclusionary state policies, the negative social construction of refugees and parenthood experiences. It presents two main types of unparenting, which can be defined as the interrelation between structural power and the intimate parent–child relationship: direct unparenting, reflecting the physical and psychological impact on parenting of family deportations and welfare interventions in at‐risk situations and more veiled unparenting, reflecting the accrual of a lack of legal status and rights and its impact – and that of racism – on the lack of parental resources such as time, income, education, emotional availability and, ultimately, the ability to ‘be parents’. Such precariousness further impairs parents' mental recovery, which in turn negatively impacts children's well‐being. Still, parents' resilience is demonstrated by their ability to manage work, family and community life. We conclude by noting a dearth in the research on the impact of socio‐political and legal contexts of the familial sphere, as well as the need to politicize social work practice with refugee children and families.
Book
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Police control of irregular migrations in the European Union" analyses the criminological and policing contexts of the globalization of irregular migrations as a significant challenge for the security of the European Union. Policies and institutions in charge of protection of public order, internal and external security were considered. The study examined the uncontrolled mobility of irregular migrants as well as other threats. the observation of the institutional and functional evolution of the police and justice authorities in connection with the long-lasting migration crisis and the growing sense of threat to societies experiencing terrorism and observing the increased activity of organized cross-border criminal groups (dealing with smuggling of migrants, human trafficking and facilitating illegal migration to the European Union). and the Schengen Area). The development and adaptation of the police law on the protection of EU borders, the strengthening of multilateral police cooperation at the intersection of criminal, migration and security policies, and finally the establishment of the European Border and Coast Guard have become an inspiration to undertake interdisciplinary research on the police control of illegal migration and the protection of EU borders.
Chapter
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This chapter deals with Eritrean refugees and social workers’ perceptions about Israel’s policies and their implications for the well-being of refugee families, parents and children. The concept of “permanent temporariness” is used to encapsulate the legal and psycho-social aspects of refugees’ lives in continuing instability, which is caused by their temporary legal status, lack of human rights and access to services, and the ongoing threat of deportation. Based on the narratives of Eritrean refugee service users and social workers who work with them, this chapter focuses on the context of policies in the construction of well-being. The findings suggest that Israel’s policies and the permanent temporariness they enforce hindered families’ mental health and recovery from trauma, children’s processes of identity formation, and enhanced the role shifts between parents and children. Furthermore, restrictive policies and xenophobic discourse had driven families to poverty and increased their exposure to violence and racism. The threat of deportation had put families’ physical and psychological well-being at risk. Refugees’ temporariness also impacted the relationship between social workers and service users: it increased power imbalances, parents’ mistrust, and hindered the creation of partnerships. Still, despite the permanent temporariness and other post migration challenges, refugee families’ resilience is discussed. The chapter concludes with implications for social work practice and a call for policy advocacy for the protection of refugee children and families’ rights.
Article
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Recent global statistics show that refugee situations are on the rise. A growing body of literature has focused on the scale of the crises, mostly in rich countries, portraying refugees as "victims", "burden" and "problems". In general, host communities have been perceived as being homogenous while socially constructed differences between them and refugees have been understudied. Implementation of top-down interventions with a primary focus on refugees" basic needs satisfaction increased their dependency on aid and instilled their dignity triggering the strategy of their confinement mainly in camps. Accommodation of refugees in camps has not always been the best solution because they did not always provide a safe place for their dignified life. Operational gaps in some refugee-accepting countries, on the one hand, and the disproportionate efforts made by the international community to support them to manage humanitarian crises, on the other hand, have made refugees a profitable target for human traffickers. While human trafficking has been perceived as a side effect rather than a direct consequence of the humanitarian crises, it has not been prioritized in humanitarian responses" design. Considering the existing gaps in the literature about challenges faced by refugees in camps and insufficient research about refugee-host communities" relations, this paper aims at discussing the risk of human trafficking in refugee camps and how it is addressed. It examines how policies and approaches advocated by International Office for Migration, European Commission, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees call to promote a rights-based anti-trafficking response in refugee camps during humanitarian crises. It uses secondary data to illustrate the vulnerability of refugees to human trafficking in refugee camps and provides some recommendations to be taken into consideration.
Book
Tens of thousands of Eritreans make perilous voyages across Africa and the Mediterranean Sea every year. Why do they risk their lives to reach European countries where so many more hardships await them? By visiting family homes in Eritrea and living with refugees in camps and urban peripheries across Ethiopia, Sudan, and Italy, Milena Belloni untangles the reasons behind one of the most under-researched refugee populations today. Balancing encounters with refugees and their families, smugglers, and visa officers, The Big Gamble contributes to ongoing debates about blurred boundaries between forced and voluntary migration, the complications of transnational marriages, the social matrix of smuggling, and the role of family expectations, emotions, and values in migrants’ choices of destinations.
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This book presents the first-ever comprehensive and in-depth analysis of the international law of human trafficking. Anne T. Gallagher calls on her direct experience working within the United Nations to chart the development of new international laws on this issue. She links these rules to the international law of State responsibility , as well as key norms of international human rights law, transnational criminal law, refugee law and international criminal law, in the process identifying and explaining the major legal obligations of States with respect to preventing trafficking, protecting and supporting victims, and prosecuting perpetrators.
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