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How does Sudan’s Underground Railroad work?

Local Arab-Dinka peace agreements are the basis of the slave retrieval system. In the early 1990s, some Arab clans which have an economic dependence on Southern Sudan - either the need for trade or land for dry season grazing – forged peace agreements with their Black African neighbors to the South.  These Arabs were allowed to trade at designated markets in Southern Sudan and graze their cattle in designated areas, in return for rejecting the Government of Sudan’s declared jihad and facilitating the return of women and children who had been enslaved. Masters expected some payment for the release of their slaves, and the retrievers incurred costs. For nearly a decade, CSI paid 50,000 Sudanese pounds for the liberation and return of a slave. In local terms, that is the purchase price of two goats.  In U.S. currency the value has ranged over the years between $50 and $35.  At the present time, CSI does not exchange cash for slaves. Instead, we make cattle vaccine available to slave-owning cattle camp Arabs. When slaves are returned to Southern Sudan, they are documented by local community leaders and CSI staff. Tribal chiefs help locate the families of the liberated slaves.