As reported over the past five years, Sudan is a transit, source, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and, to a lesser extent, sex trafficking and child soldiering. For the second consecutive year, traffickers increased their recruitment of male migrants to Sudan for purposes of forced labor or situations indicative of trafficking under false pretenses of employment. Street children in Khartoum—including Sudanese and unaccompanied migrant children from West and Central Africa—who beg in the streets, and work in public transportation and large markets are particularly susceptible to forced labor; some experience sexual abuse and extortion. Human rights groups observe children working in brick-making factories, gold mining, collecting medical waste, street vending, and agriculture; these children are exposed to threats, physical and sexual abuse, and hazardous working conditions, with limited access to education or health services, making them highly vulnerable to trafficking. Sudanese women and girls, particularly internally displaced persons or those from rural areas, and refugee women are vulnerable to domestic servitude; Sudanese girls are also vulnerable to sex trafficking. Sudanese law prohibits the recruitment of children as combatants and provides criminal penalties for perpetrators; however, children remained vulnerable to recruitment and use as combatants and in support roles by non-governmental armed groups and militias, primarily in Sudan’s conflict zones of Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile. An international organization reported that the non-governmental Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minnawi, Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid, and Sudan Liberation Army-Popular Defense may have recruited and used child soldiers, and verification was ongoing at the end of the reporting period.
Due to regional instability and conflict, Sudan hosts more than 2.9 million people of concern, including refugees, internally displaced persons, and asylum-seekers. These individuals are vulnerable to trafficking due to their lack of economic stability and access to justice. East Sudan hosts over 107,000 refugees, the majority of which are Eritreans. The government’s COR partnered with NGOs and international organizations to assist asylum-seekers arriving in three reception areas.
European support for the government’s efforts to limit irregular migration routes through Sudan to Europe has forced migration underground and therefore increased the vulnerability of migrants to abuse and exploitation by traffickers, complicit security forces, and criminal networks, primarily in the east of the country. A human rights organization reported that approximately 30,000 Eritrean, Ethiopian, and other African asylum-seekers—a population vulnerable to trafficking due to their economic fragility and lack of access to justice—are temporarily housed in Khartoum waiting to travel to Europe. During the reporting year, Eritreans represented the highest proportion of trafficking victims in Sudan—mainly in the east—due to the consistent flow of refugees and asylum-seekers and their youth demographic. Ethiopian women are particularly vulnerable to domestic servitude in private homes in Khartoum and other urban centers; some Ethiopian women are forced into prostitution in Khartoum and experience debt bondage. Somalis represent a significant portion of smuggled individuals who become, or are at risk of becoming victims of trafficking. Anecdotal reports indicate Syrian refugees, including children, are observed begging on the streets in Khartoum and are vulnerable to exploitation. Analogous to Syrian nationals, some Yemenis fleeing conflict in their homeland sought asylum in Sudan, and their economic vulnerabilities upon arrival likely motivate their onward migration to Europe. Due to the ongoing conflict in South Sudan, there was an increase in South Sudanese refugees across Sudan, many of whom remained vulnerable to exploitation in Sudan. An international organization continued to document cases of West and Central African nationals—primarily from Niger, Mali, and Chad—who arrived in Sudan via irregular migratory routes and were subsequently vulnerable to trafficking. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that Chinese women working for small-scale Chinese companies, such as restaurants and hotels, may be subjected to forced labor or prostitution.
Darfur remained a favored route to Libya, as the porous border and sustained insecurity allow traffickers to operate with impunity across the region. The previously defunct Egyptian route is being used again in connection with the migration influx to Europe; Sudanese citizens and other African nationalities are allegedly utilizing this course. In past years, some Sudanese citizens en route to Europe via Egypt were detained in the Sinai Peninsula where they were vulnerable to exploitation. Eritrean nationals are abducted at border crossings, extorted for ransom, and abused by smugglers linked to the Rashaida and Tabo tribes, although other cross-border tribes also take part in trafficking; some of those abducted are forced to perform domestic or manual labor and experience various types of abuse, indicative of trafficking. Sudanese police and border guards allegedly facilitate the trafficking of Eritrean nationals and allow potential victims to be transported across security checkpoints or international borders without intervention.
Sudanese citizens are subjected to forced labor, domestic servitude, and sex trafficking abroad. Some Sudanese men who voluntarily migrate to the Middle East as low-skilled laborers are subjected to forced labor. The government reported Sudanese children are exploited in forced begging and street vending in Saudi Arabia, especially during the Hajj season. Sudanese criminal gangs deceptively promise Sudanese nationals employment in Libya, but instead sell them to Libyans who subject them to forced labor in agriculture or mining.