Hands of an African woman
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Eritrean girl: I thought kidnappers would kill us

Two children of a British woman, who was born and raised in Eritrea, are among the latest people to have their lives torn apart by kidnappers.

Kidnap gangs in parts of Egypt and east Sudan are increasingly preying upon the thousands of Eritrean refugees who flee their impoverished and repressive country each year.

Lemlem Ghebru's two daughters, aged 14 and 15, were freed when their captor's base in east Sudan was stormed by security forces.

Speaking to the BBC's Mike Thomson, Lemlem explained: "When I came to live in London I wasn't able to bring my daughters with me from Eritrea. I was desperate to get them out of the country too.

"They then came up with the idea of getting people traffickers to smuggle them into east Sudan, where their grandmother lives. But the people my daughters paid double crossed them."

One of Lemlem's daughter's described her ordeal: "The traffickers took us near to the border with Sudan, and then one of them said: 'You have been kidnapped. If you ever want to see your family again you'll have to get them to pay the money we want.' It was such a shock."

"I was absolutely terrified, I lost all hope. I remember thinking to myself, this is it. I thought about how tragic it was that my family were about to lose two of us at the same time. I couldn't get that out of my head, that we were both going to die."

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Thursday 14 March 2013.

  • 14 Mar 2013
  • From the section Africa