Police in Sudan have rescued 94 people, mostly children, from criminal human trafficking networks in the country, Interpol has said.
Eighty-five of those rescued were children and are believed to be from Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Niger, Sudan and South Sudan.
They were rescued in a four-day operation in August, the international police agency said.
The operation called Sawiyan, was coordinated by Interpol’s National Central Bureau in Khartoum and some 200 Sudanese local officers.
Some of the victims as young as 10 years, were found working in illegally-operated gold mines east of Khartoum under extreme conditions, where they forced to handle dangerous chemicals, the agency said in a statement.
“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,” said Tim Morris, Interpol’s Executive Director of Police Services.
Two men and 12 women, suspected to be traffickers were arrested and $20,000 were recovered in the operation carried out in several locations in Khartoum and the city’s international airport.
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The agency which said it had launched an investigation into the cases, said many of the victims, were held against their will and forced to work in the mining operations where they were rescued.
“One consistent aspect arising from our operations against human trafficking is the abuse of the inherent vulnerability of the victims, and the perilous conditions they are made to work in for profit,” Morris said in the statement.
Interpol said Sudan’s Ministry of Social Affairs will provide assistance for those rescued.
Thousands of people have been forced into child labor, sex trafficking and child soldiering in Sudan, which remains a viable source, destination and transit point for criminal trafficking networks on the continent.
According to the United States department around 2.9 million people are vulnerable to trafficking rings due to poor economic conditions that prevail in the north African country.