August 28th, 2012

‘A Stand in the Sinai’: A CNN Freedom Project Documentary

  • Follow-up to CNN’s award-winning documentary ‘Death in the Desert’ which uncovered the shocking trade of organ trafficking in the Sinai Desert
  • Progress discovered in Sinai Peninsula since last year’s original

TX: Friday 21 September at 2130 BST

African refugees, mostly from Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea, face a dangerous journey crossing Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula as they seek a better life in Israel.

As reported in last year’s award-winning CNN Freedom Project documentary ‘Death in the Desert’, the reality that awaits these migrants is often slavery, rape, imprisonment and torture.

In ‘Death in the Desert’, CNN correspondent Fred Pleitgen uncovered evidence that many of these refugees trying to reach Israel had fallen into the hands of human traffickers in the Sinai. These traffickers then tortured the refugees, and in some cases harvested their organs for sale on the black market, leaving many of their victims to die.

In 2012, in ‘A Stand in the Sinai: A CNN Freedom Project Documentary’, Pleitgen returns to the Sinai and finds a different reality now awaits the constant flow of African refugees. He speaks to Bedouin tribal leaders who say they are now working to battle human trafficking in the region, offering medical support and safe havens for these refugees.

Bedouin Sheikh Mohammed Abu Billal tells Pleitgen these refugees usually come to him with “signs of torture and rape, dressed in rags and starved…methods of oppression to exploit them for money. The burden is heavy on me, but it is a responsibility called upon us by Islam…that is why I spend my money to harbour them and bring happiness to their hearts at any cost,” says Sheikh Mohammed.

“When the CNN Freedom Project first discovered the atrocities taking place in the Sinai, it was not enough to do a standalone report,” says Tony Maddox, Executive vice president and managing director of CNN International. “Fred’s continued commitment to this story speaks to the Freedom Project’s core mission: that is to uncover stories of modern-day slavery, bring them to light, raise awareness and hopefully contribute to effective change.”

Earlier this year, the U.S.-based Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. recognised ‘Death in the Desert’ with the prestigious Tom Renner Award for its investigative coverage of organised crime or other criminal acts, citing the CNN team’s “great personal risk in crossing the dangerous badlands of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to expose a network of human trafficking and organ sales.”

About The CNN Freedom Project

In 2011, CNN Worldwide launched ‘The CNN Freedom Project: Ending Modern-Day Slavery,’ a multi-platform initiative aimed at exposing the horrors of modern-day slavery, highlighting the growing efforts to stop the trade and exploitation of human beings and amplifying the voices of the victims. From debt bondage in India to sex trafficking rings in Southern California, the CNN Freedom Project has generated more than 250 stories of modern-day slavery. Many notable figures have partnered with the Freedom Project since its launch including Anil Kapoor, Demi Moore, COMMON, Mira Sorvino and Emmanuel Jal.’s Freedom Project blog on serves as the platform where users can participate in the global discussion and debate around modern-day slavery. The CNN Freedom Project is on Twitter – @CNNFreedom – and Facebook at Through these channels, users can connect directly with CNN about this cause, learn more about the organisations standing on the frontlines and see how they are affecting change.


Full air times for ‘A Stand in the Sinai’

Friday 21 September at 16:30 and 21:30 BST
Saturday 22 September at 14:00 and 21:30 BST
Sunday 23 September at 10:30 BST
Monday 24 September at 04:30 BST

For more information, please contact:

Joel Brown
Senior Press Officer
CNN Europe, Middle East & Africa
+ 44 20 7693 0967