Interpol has coordinated the rescue of 94 victims of human trafficking in Sudan. Eighty-five of them were children who were rescued from open-air gold mines outside of Khartoum and the city’s international airport.
Police conducted the rescue during August 26-30, seizing $20,000 during the operation and arresting 14 individuals, 12 of them women.
The child laborers, some as young as 10, had been found to be working in illegal gold mines, where they had to handle dangerous substances including cyanide and mercury.
ABC News reports:
The rescued victims came from a half-dozen countries including Chad, Eritrea, Niger, Congo and South Sudan. Sudanese were also among the victims.
Sudan is among African countries that are both a source of migration to Europe and a transit country and destination for smuggling.
The statement said that holding victims in bondage and using them for labor-intensive activities after being lured or coerced appears to be a method used by traffickers in the region.
Some 200 Sudanese officers took part in Operation Sawiyan, with the France-based police agency training and equipping investigators. Police had access to Interpol databases containing records of millions of lost or stolen documents, the statement said.
It is still unclear what will happen to the victims, particularly around the question of if foreign victims will be returned home to their countries of origin. For now, Sudan’s Child Protection Unit has been called in to provide immediate assistance while the Ministry of Social Affairs is tasked with providing longer-term aid.
The rescue operation was made as part of Interpol’s Project Flyway, aimed at helping protect vulnerable communities in North Africa and the Sahel region.