(TW: Mention of rape, human trafficking, organ harvesting, images of deceased corpses)
Death in the desert: Tribesmen exploit battle to reach Israel
El Arish, Egypt (CNN) — “I wanted to build a good future for my family, but I failed,” a weak Issam Abdallah Mohammed said in a videotaped statement.
The refugee from the Darfur region of Sudan was trying to illegally cross the border from Egypt to Israel when he was discovered and shot by Egyptian border guards.
Less than an hour after taping the statement, Issam was dead, succumbing to the wounds inflicted by the gunshots.
Every year, thousands of refugees, mostly from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan, attempt the dangerous journey from their war-torn countries to Israel in search of economic prosperity and stability.
Very few make it, and the results of the failed migration can be seen in the morgue of the central hospital in the Egyptian port town of El Arish.
When a CNN crew visited there recently, all the refrigeration units were broken, leaving a biting stench of decaying corpses in the air, which staff members attempted in vain to cover up with chlorine-based cleaner and incense.
On any given day, the morgue will be packed with the bodies of African refugees who died trying to make it to Israel.
Hamdy Al-Azazy spends a lot of time here as head of the New Generation Foundation for Human Rights, which tries to help African refugees in Egypt.
Every week, Al-Azazy combs the desert, searching for corpses, ensuring that they get a dignified burial.
He has spent the past seven years helping the refugees. Many are enslaved and tortured and the women raped by the Bedouin tribes of the Sinai if they are unable to come up with large sums of money the Bedouin try to extort from them and their families, to smuggle the refugees across the border into Israel. As a result, many remain imprisoned in camps on the Sinai Peninsula.
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