Police in Sudan’s capital have rescued 94 victims of human trafficking, 85 of them minors.
Operation Sawiyan involved 200 Sudanese police officers who assisted Interpol in the crackdown which began early last month.
Many of the victims were from other African countries and believed to have been travelling toward Europe when they fell into the hands of traffickers, said Tim Morris, Interpol’s executive director of police services.
“We believe that they were transiting through Sudan and then kidnapped en route and diverted into these forced labour activities,” Morris told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The victims came from Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Niger, Sudan and South Sudan, he said.
The victims were found at several locations, including Khartoum’s international airport and open-air gold mines east of the city.
Interpol said in a statement Monday that many of minors were “discovered working under extreme conditions in illegally-operated gold mines, where children as young as ten were also handling dangerous chemicals and substances such as mercury and cyanide.”
Agents arrested 14 suspected traffickers and seized 20,000 dollars which they believe included ransom money sent by a victim’s family to buy his freedom.
Tim Morris, Interpol’s executive director of police services, said, “The diversity of nationalities amongst those rescued shows how human trafficking and people smuggling is a truly transnational problem which requires a coordinated international response in which police and stakeholders share information and best practices.”