July 31, 2016
Translated from Tigrigna
One of the saddest stories we came across is Nazret Mekonen’s story. Nazret is an Eritrean born and raised in Weki-duba, a small town in the central region of Eritrea. In 2012, she was sellout to Rashaida gangs by a smuggler named Daniel while she was crossing the border to Sudan through Haikota (western Eritrea). Under the Rashaida gangs, she was asked to pay a ransom amounting 20,000 USD. For she was from a very low income earning family, that amount of money was beyond her capacity. But she has to do it anyway. The gang boss named Muhammed kept threatening and intimidating her in order force her family to provide the money unquestionably. The gang boss beats her whenever she is communicating with her family. Whenever she called her family, she cries loud for help as the result of the pain caused by the beating. It was an atrocious experience for her and her Family.
While the family through all means managed to collect 20,000 USD, from relatives and friends and were planning to make the payment, Nazret was called by the Gang’s Translator and ordered to mount to the back of Toyota pick-up. When she asked where they are taking her, she was smacked callously and told to keep quiet. After 4 hours of journey they reached a tented compound where about 200 sellout immigrants were kept. She couldn’t believe what she had seen. Most of the sellout immigrants were degraded to half-alive human beings. And then she knew she was sold again by her former gangs to a new one.
After 3 days, her name was called by the leader of the new Rahsaida gang, named Babeker, who bought her, and instantly told her that she would pay 35,000 USD for he had bought her for a very huge price from the other gang. Nazret thought her fate is at the edge and all she was thinking about was how her family would manage to pay the incremented ransom. She called to her family and her little sister picked. Nazret didn’t know what to say neither did her little sister. Hence she told what has just happened to her. Her little sister told her that the whole family was troubled after the gang leader who asked for 20,000 USD told them he has sold her out to another gang. At least her call came as a relief for the family to know their daughter is still alive.
Nazret told her sister how much money the new gang is asking. Her sister got the information and told Nazret She/the Family would call back sooner. The family was thankful for knowing that their daughter was alive and at the same time they were haunted with the raised amount of ransom. But as the life of their daughter was at the stake, they have to barrel through every options to add up 15,000 USD to the 20,000 USD they had collected earlier.
Providentially they could be able to collect the handouts from other relatives. After the transfer of the money to the gang, then came another episode. After the leader of the gang labeled Nazret in front of the other sellouts as an exemplary person for she could be able to pay the ransom without delay and for that her life would be spared, the gang leader loaded her on the back of a truck. When they reached at unspecific place, the gangs asked Nazret if she knew the place and evidently she replied she wouldn’t know. Then they demanded her to get down of the track, but she could not comply. But the Pushed her away from the track and went away. Nazret having no clue with the place nor the language spoken there -that is Arabic- didn’t know what to do. She paced to the center of the small village while sadness and fatigue made her look distinct in the village. The villagers peeked at her as if she was not a full human for she was immensely degraded. A villager at his 40s came closer to her and asked her from where she was. With the few Arabic words she came to accustom with, while she was held hostage by the Rashaida gangs, she told the man that she was kidnapped. The man was kind enough to take her to the police station of his village. The police took detailed information from her and through knowledge and cooperation of the UNHCR, transferred her to Shegerab Refugee camp.
At this Moment Nazret Mekonne is living in Khartoum.