By Elise Labott and Dan Morgan, CNN
For thousands of African asylum seekers fleeing danger via Egypt's Sinai desert, one woman serves as an oasis after their harrowing journey into Israel.
She was born in Eritrea as Azezet Habtezghi Kidane. In the migrant shelters of South Tel Aviv, she is known simply as Sister Aziza.
In the free clinic for migrants run by the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, where she volunteers as a nurse, Sister Aziza examines the African refugees. She sees burns and whip marks on the body of one of the men who fled to Israel though the Sinai.
"See how they tortured him," she asks. Then she sighs.
Another man describes how he crossed the River Nile, after which he was taken to a tent and beaten for two hours. He thought he was going to die. We don't know exactly what happened to him, but the migrants often fall prey to Bedouin gangs, which traffic people and extort money from them.
They are familiar sights and stories for Sister Aziza, who often travels to the border fence with Egypt to make contact with the asylum seekers.
After listening to so many of the migrants relive their journey, she found a pattern of abuse.
"You can realize immediately when a person comes in, before they tell you how much they have suffered," she tells CNN in an interview. "For me it becomes a very delicate moment with this person to ask many questions because their body speaks by itself."
Along with her colleagues at Physicians for Human Rights, she developed a questionnaire to document their stories. Over the last two years, Aziza has tirelessly conducted more than 1,300 interviews exposing chilling tales of kidnap, rape, torture, forced labor and sexual slavery.
"If anyone in the world today knows what is happening to people in the Sinai, each and every story, this is Aziza," says Ran Cohen, a colleague at Physicians for Human Rights. "If people are able to wake up every morning and keep hope, it is because what Aziza is telling and doing."
Last year CNN visited the region as part of the Freedom Project spotlighting the depths that the traffickers have sunk.
This year, we found Bedouins have taken it on themselves to tackle the problem plaguing their remote home.
Sister Aziza is a focal point and a much appreciated personality among Africa's refugee community in Israel.
While some volunteers are intimidated by the hardships they see and grow frustrated when they cannot help, Aziza is often able to talk to them in their own language.
Some even call her mother because of the comfort she provides, whether it is a hug or simply just listening to them.
Helping the migrants
Aziza's work doesn't end with the interviews. She forms close relationships with those who seek her help, takes them under her wing and accompanies them along their path to recovery.
"Sometimes they call me at one, during when I am sleeping. Sometimes during my prayer time," she says. "But I have to be for them. And it is because the wounds are healed, the wounds are cured by the doctors. But the internal suffering, the internal wounds to heal, it takes time. It takes strength, it takes faith, it takes courage, it takes a lot."
Earlier this year the U.S. State Department honored Sister Aziza with its Trafficking in Persons Heroes Award, along with Physicians for Human Rights, crediting her patience and devotion in getting the migrants to come forward with their stories.
Their firsthand accounts have helped shine an important light on the previously unknown atrocities of trafficking in the Sinai, the State Department said.
When asked how she copes with all the suffering she sees and hears about, Sister Aziza admits: "It's not easy."
"Even if today I cry, God, I say, 'Why do you allow to happen these things?' tomorrow I come to listen again. There is the strength that God gives me - and the strengths of them - the victims, my community, my sisters, the staff around me. It really gives me a lot of encouragement in order to come again."
Women raped by traffickers find help
Ran Cohen says Aziza has become a role model for her colleagues because of her faith and courage.
"I think that Aziza is paying a high individual price for her work. It's not easy at all," he says. "All these atrocities and all that she hears and after all we see, it is Aziza that keeps everyone with their head up and looking forward and believe that they can be a change and evil is not something that we have to accept."
This nun reminds me of Mother Teresa. They are the people that go straight to heaven. What are the rest of us doing to help others? In the end, charity and love is all that you have to present before God.
It's a shame Christians believe it is their actions that allow them to go "Straight to heaven". These types of comments is what causes confusion among believers, and non-believers.
It is possible for a person who does not serve God to live a "life of pacifism, charity and humility." There are some more moral non-believers than some people who claim to believe. See Ephesians 2:8-9 . There is not one thing that Mother Teresa did on earth that justifies her to God, except her Love of Him. Her tremendous Love of God was the root of her actions. She was not perfect, God NEVER said we are to strive for perfection. Jesus was sent because we are unable to fulfill the Law of God. And when we learn to love Christ, our burden of judgement and sin are laid at His feet, and He gladly picks them up and places them on His shoulder in the form of a Cross.
I agree with you. She will meet God and Mother Teresa one day.
Thank you Sister Aziza for helping those poor people. You are an example to all of us in your practice of Charity and for advocating Human Rights and Peace in this World. Also thank you Elise Labott and Dan Morgan, CNN for reporting to all of us and of goodwill such act of Nobility. Merci! Lucien Alexandre Marion / Canada
There is no God as proved by the exploits of these poor folks. Besides, why are they not in their own country getting it straightened out instead running to another country. You have to stand up in your own country, because running to another just foists the issue on even more innocent people. In the US, we are fighting the same thing, people throwing themselves on others instead of helping themselves.
Please do a follow up story on the huge problem these migrants are causing throughout Israel especially in the Tel Aviv area.
They are arriving in the 10s of thousands with no education and no jobs waiting for them
It is causing major problems to Israel politically and economically.
Joe, forgive me if you are a non-Bible person or prefer secular practicalities over religious idealism.
But one of my favorite Bible versus is the following: Leviticus 19:33.
“‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
Even when they are raping your women?
Nice verse but naive. I hope you think the same after your welfare system collapse and you get robbed by them or their descendants.
Can't help but wonder how the ISRAELIS feel about all this charity, an invasion of non Jewish asylum seekers into a Jewish state. They've been deporting illegal aliens, many of them from Africa, because they want to keep the Jewish state Jewish.
Tholtz that's strange because according to this bible verse you're allowed to beat your slaves as long as you don't kill them.
Exodus 21:20-21 "And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money [property]."
Don't try and make it into a "good book"
If you do good, people will find fault with you, doubt you, call you naive, point out the impossible odds, or shout anger a you.
Do good anyway.
God bless you sister. Would that I could be more like you.
"Can't help but wonder how the ISRAELIS feel about all this charity, an invasion of non Jewish asylum seekers into a Jewish state. They've been deporting illegal aliens, many of them from Africa, because they want to keep the Jewish state Jewish."
Ali, how does this compare to Muslim countries wanting to keep their countries Muslim?
Maybe the Israelis can use some of the billions of dollars sent to them from the USA to help. This would be a wonderful gesture on their part.
So, actually 90% of aid coming from the US to Israel goes directly to US defense contractors and jobs in the US. and the reason Israel needs to fund the military is because the islamists are dedicated to murder of children, slavery of women, and the overthrow of western civilization
Couldn't agree more!
Exactly the same Issue Romney is getting plasted for in the US, telling the truth which hurts "do-gooders" ears apparently.
Israel is only open for Jewish only immigration. that shows shows how racist society Israel has.
tholtz- I live in this neighborgood – Israel has been more than accepting but not have the means for supporting this influx. Israel is a home for Jews and refugees alike and has enough economic strain defending itself and growing as a 1st world nation.... We are more than brotherly and doing best we can, but when people are sleeping on your streets and jobless; then you will feel different.
my grandfather fought in world war 2 to help free the jews from the same opperssion.. now am in afghanistan fighting for a similar cause... people help each others
Bless you for your work and your caring for those whose freedoms you defend.
The reason you are in Afghanistan is to steal lithium from Afghan for America electronic industry e.g. Apple. Maybe you don't know that, and you are just there to kill Muslims. Before that you were in Iraq to steal oil from Iraqi people for American oil companies. Maybe you don't know that, and you were just there to kill Muslims. In any case, your cause is a sick cause. Maybe your grand father was not there to rescue jews, but to rescue American armament industry. Either way, American wars have only one cause ... serve interests of corporate America.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but your grandfather did not fight to save the Jews, he fought to save the French and the Brits. The Jews where just an afterthought for the allied forces.
black people are losers. They stare me down at walmart.
If theirs were not for black people there would not be a planet Earth because they started everything from reading and writing to civilization. Sorry I could not let that slide.
So what have they done for the world lately, dig diamonds? Can't live on your laurels forever. They need to get their own countries civilized.
These black folks are all muslimes.
It is I, Mohammed.
Muslims stop enslaving each other. Thanks, yours truly Mohammed.
... and when you wiped out entire pagan races in North America, South America, and Australia in my name; killed millions of zulu and enslaved the rest in Africa to spread my message; killed six million jews to avenge my death; continue to kill millions of Muslims in Middle East as part of your crusades; I am greatly pleased with your spreading my teachings.
Will the real mohammed please stand up. Enslave and Kill all Kafirs.
Yours in anger and Hatred
... and that is why you hate black people. Good justification.
Not that it matters, but get your facts rigt. They are mostly Eastern Orthodox Christians from Eritrea.
Most of them from Eritrea which is 100% Christian country, Why would Muslims go to racist Israel ? They can go to Saudi Arabia, UAE or Kuwait if they need jobs.
Eritrea is about 45% muslims.
very shameful that izrael arrests them and tosses them in jail, then deports them...after all their suffering and struggles for freedom from unspeakable torture and oppression. way to go izrahell, you zi0nazis never learn true humanity, it's not in your blood
It is very shameful that Muslim countries subject their citizens to unspeakable torture and oppression, so causing them to seek refuge in a small, criticized, threatened, disparaged country. It seems that the Muslim countries never learn true humanity.
So when Christians wiped out entire races from North America, South America, Australia, and large part of Africa, it was true humanity? Then when catholic Hitler killed all those gays, gypsies, handicapped people, and jews, it was even truer humanity? Man, humanity sucks. Can we instead become beasts like tigers who kill only so they may eat to live?
Chat Pata, I have no argument with your statement. My earlier post was a direct reply to, and parody of, the comment by "shameful".
The people in this story are Eritreans. The don't have a muslim government. They are eastern orthodox christians.
Eritrea is100% Christian country,
People need to get their own house in order and quit running to other countries, we have same issue in the US.
Not the ones thay can exploit.
Ifail to see any problem with slavery.In fact Ithink President Lincoln was wrong and slavery shpould be legalized
Obviously your lack of spelling and literacy shows how you fail to see the major issue with slavery (it's obviously inhumane). President Lincoln was much more in the right than you are, Sam.
Too bad Christopher Hitchens isn't still alive. He would find ways of criticizing this nun.
No mention of her religion, CNN? Perhaps she is a secularist nun?
She is wearing a Hijab, can be a Muslim. LOL.
Chat Pata, in the Christian world a nun's head covering is called a "habit".
Here is some clarification from Wikipedia:
"A religious habit is a distinctive set of garments worn by members of a religious order. Traditionally some plain garb recognisable as a religious habit has also been folded by those leading the religious eremitic and anachoritic life, although in their case without conformity to a particular uniform style.
"In the typical Roman Catholic or Anglican orders, the habit consists of a tunic covered by a scapular and cowl, with a hood for monks and a veil for nuns; in other orders it may be a distinctive form of cassock for men, or a distinctive habit and veil for women."
So, the head covering is only part of a habit.
She is a catholic nun from Eritrea. Most of the refuges are Eastern Orthodox Christians from Eritrea fleeing their country from dictatorship. Please do your home work before posting a comment.
Another Mother Teresa...thank you Sister Aziza! This atrocity needs to be stopped. It's barbaric and destroying lives. Just think of how many people are actually killed during the torturing. Third world countries always use force to control others, because they are uneducated. Soon America will be following in their footsteps. We already see the signs here in this country.
That's not that simple. This article encourages more Africans to march into Israel in hope that Sister Aziza will help them to settle their. And Israel, a small country with huge geopolitical problems, cannot keep the doors open for millions of Africans who want to migrate into a western country. Not just because the neighborhoods turn into slam, if Jews get outnumbered by Muslims in Israel there will be no Israel.
It's interesting that it becomes to be not politically correct to ask why the new Egyptian government allows these atrocities to happen. Sensitivity to Arab's honor, peace, respect for a different culture (including rape and slavery), etc.?
It's true that geopolical realities are always present and a challenge. We each must decide what is our first, highest concern, however, and this nun has chosen the individual suffering before her. I honor her and wis I was more like her.
That whole area is Africa and those people been traveling back and forth for million of years in that area , don^t take my word look it up and see for yourself. Bless.
"Get thee back to thy country and cleanse it of the leftist, fornicators and government slave masters" sayeth the Lord.
A lot of people are against poor and the poor themselves are gainst their kind.
Such a sad world we live in. We rather praise money and the rich people. W
We rather respect Money and Greed then human Lives. And We believe in God.
We believe iin religions but we kill each other in the name of Religion. It doesn't matter if you are christians or muslims We all the same people created by God but God forgot about Us.
or he isn't there...
It is SO NATURAL for CNN to avoid identifying WHO does these crimes, and WHY. What religion are they?
Wouldn't want to offend the guilty.
Yet, how naturally, "GOP WAR ON WOMEN" rolls off the tongue.
CNN – hypocrite much?
...why does it matter what religion they are? the religion is not at fault. rather, its the person. why do you find such need to have cnn say which religion they are? it doesnt matter.
What does their religion have anything to do with the persecution of the migrants victims? They see and understand the lucrativeness associated nature of these people in transit. And the intrinsic value of human organs in the black market, are highly sought/demand.
my grandfather fought in world war 2 to help free the jews from the same opperssion.. now am in afghanistan fighting for a similar cause... people help each others..
to all you black americans who coin yourselves as African American, are you proud of yourself and what your native country is doing to it's people?
Steve... ask yourself the same question!
All of planet Earth is Africa the first and last. Bless.
Obama is, he is trying to turn the USA into a 3rd world country, with the government as the slave master.
This nun reminds me of Mother Teresa who tirelessly and unselfishly took on the sufferings of the poor and was always there for them–when their relatives, their country and their neighbors could not help.
wherever there are blacks...trouble follows....
wherever there are natural resources, economic commodities,...white people coordinate and exploit. Oil deposits from Nigeria (Shell and et al.) Somalia (oil reserves), et al. Don't twist history (the obscured truth).
I am American and happen to be brown!
Interesting that it is ONLY Israel in that region that is trusted to treat people humanely... Sometimes facts are hard to accept...the muslim world is dominated by inhumanity and violence...thank goodness for the Jews
They(Israel) have USA money to help. Catholic Relief Services does a lot to help the poor. They are all over the world and most of their money goes to aiding poor people. Thank God for the Roman Catholic Church.
Perhaps we should abridge our First Amendment rights rather than criticize the militant Islamists who cause suffering.
Looks like Israel is paying heavily to Sinai bandits to keep the refugees from coming to Israel. An excellent example of outsourcing dirty work.
Looks like you have not the slightest idea what you are talking about...maybe try using some facts instead of bigotry to form your opinions
This is great news. Israel needs more diversity. Soon these immigrants will be bedding down with local girls and they can enjoy the wonders of multiculturalism. I hope Israel ends up just like the U.S. After all, no one contributed more to making the U.S. the cesspit it is today than the supporters of Israel. May you all have the grandchildren of Ham.
maybe when you crawl out from the slimey rock in which you live the sunlight will disinfect you...nah..even the sun cannot help racist perverts like you
If it were not for black people this would not be the greatest nation the world every knowing. I am pride to be an American how about you.
I used to be proud but the current 3rd world leadership we have now is leading us to the 3rd world, I am not proud of that.
i read recently that a huge number of black Africans are slaves of their Arab masters in Mauretania.
And yet you hear almost nothing about it, year after year. Is it because we have no assets to protect there, and so we just don't care??
No, the media in the US are controlled by Obama's left wing buddies and they could care less about black Africans, Obama and his friends only care about the Arabs and muslims and their corrupt governments from which Obama and his billionaire buddies gets billions of dollars in contracts
This is disgraceful. How can his woman be so cruel. Christians are so hateful. Yes indeed, Christians are so full of hate and only seek to hurt.
This woman epitomizes the very nature of Christians around the world. We are NOT hateful and intolerant evil people. We Christians love and share the love of Christ, often sacrificing many luxuries and even safety to spread the word of God.
Where are the hateful atheists now. Tell me how this woman offends you and how she should be executed for her cruelty. This woman is a SAINT. She represents God and is doing His work. Does she offend you?
Heart breaks seeing these refugees. Problem with them is once they get space in US they expect the US citizens and the Nation to adopt their way of life and relgion. European countries are facing similar problem. They refuse to intigrate with locals, culture and be loyal to the ation which give space for a peaceful life.ignoring faith is personal
I find it hilarious how whites get all the rap for slavery and yet black-on-black slavery has always been the VAST majority of the market – so much so that it continues today.
I am going to save this picture and put it in the face of the next Al Sharpton protester going on about "da white man keepin us down."
IN YOUR FACE BLACK PEOPLE!
Sorry but Mr. Sharpton do not look black to me just maybe just maybe some where in between.
I think its so great that everyone is so down on ISrael and thinks theyre horrible yet they are clearly the only country in the Middle East that is willing to accept these refugess and help them out. Maybe we should help bring Israel up so they can continue doing good for the Middle East instead of bringing them down.
Very epecial human and a true servant of god.
I am confused. Usually whena story involves a nun or any other religious figure our Atheist friends come out of the woodwork to criticize and belittle the people of faith....maybe this story hasn't caught on yet. Of course she is doing good works because she gets it, faith without works is dead!!! I am always inspired by those who step out of their comfort zones to deliver the gospel through actions without lots of words!!!
Who and what colored the first slaves the European brought to America before they started taken native black slave?.
Funny, I was always led to believe that the Israelis (sic Jews) hated gentiles. At least that was what CNN, BBC, Der Volkischer Beobachter and Stormfront led me to believe. And now I see that they are an "oasis" for ... Africans? An asylum even. Aren't the Jews supposed to be oppressing Palestinians, hating arabs like the Nazis? Something is wrong with this picture. Can it be that our own CNN has been lying to us all these years?
So the bedouins are what religion? Oh yeah muslims the religion of peace and tolerance. Notice that these poor people are going to Israel not egypt, or libya, or syria, or jordan.
why is almost everyone on here so racist and ignorant.....the arab world is 20% of the muslim population. STOP JUDGING ISLAM off of what disgusting, greedy, power-hungry dictators do. it is not islam at fault. anyone who did their research would know that. anyone that has a brain can see that. why else is islam the 2nd leading religion in the world? im so sick of alll this hate......
and who the heck cares what religion these people are??? these are sincere people being helped by sincere israeli. there are bad people in every nation, race, religion, etc. those few bad ones don't define the entire population. stop being so arrogant and blinded by the media.
It's good to be reminded now and then that not everything is rotten on the Earth.
There is a sufficiaent mass with respect to the "thousands of African asylum seekers fleeing danger " each day, that if they clubbed together the alleged 'danger' they claim to face would be beaten to death. Instead, naive do-gooders such as the "nun" encourage those tens of thousands to creep into Europe's welfare system to draw down unearned welfare benefits, breed like flies and leech off Europeans as African racial parasites. The African 'immigrants' industrial-scale racial colonisation of Europe is environmentally and economically unsustainable and the 'eurocommunist' leaders of Europe cynically regard African welfare tourists as an unending source of red-socialist'voters' to keep them in power, ignoring in the process the catastrophic damage to the fragile ecological footprint of the indigenous white natives. The 'nun' should be tried for complicity in crimes againsy humanity for encouraging the ethnic cleansing of Europeans by rapaciious welfare-dependent skill-free workshy but often hyper-aggressive African 'immigrants'
Music video made for the cause against modern-day slavery featuring actress/dancer Kathryn McCormick (SYTYCD, Step Up 4)
Lets all have a concern for Humanity...
- Hello Jen & Ben,First I would like to start of saying you guys are angizmagg We had such a great time and the pictures look beautiful.. I love the different shots. My family loves it and his family loves it. Thank you guys so much for coming out to NYC we had an amazing time hanging out with you guys and taking pictures at the same time. I loved every second of it. Also just to tell you how much I love your video. I watch it almost everyday. Its perfect!. I'm so happy how you guys put together exactly what I wanted. It was an amazing experience from start to finish. You guys are so passionate at what you do and it shows in every single picture.Thank you so much Jen & Ben.Nauman & Aziza
Question: Why was my legitimate constructive criticism removed? I asked why are there obvious mis-translations? Another Eritrean noticed it and pointed it out.
I find it remarkable the admin/moderator of this page somehow finds it fit to allow people to rant and post negative comments, but when someone poses a serious inquiry, they remove it right away. I'm gonna get a hold of someone to resolve this obvious wrongdoing on part of CNN. I will be a print screen, and will follow up in direct email correspondence.
Thank you for creating this web site and sharing your viewpoint. I enjoy reading it during my lunch break at work. It is nice to take my thoughts off work even though for only 30 mins. Cheers
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