Israel: The crisis of African Immigrants

The crisis of African migrants in Israel has increased in intensity since Benjamin Netanyahu declared last November that he will deport the more than 40,000 Africans who are now living in Israeli territory in detention centers and refugee camps, while they seek political asylum in this nation. Additionally, the Israeli prime minister declared the closure of the famous Holot detention center, where thousands of migrants are waiting to clarify their immigration status.

Netanyahu has had to face the crisis of migrants for years. Therefore, he has approved the expatriation of about 40,000 Africans. Immigrants will have a period of three months to leave the country voluntarily or, otherwise, they will be deported by the Israeli state.

 

According to the president, the policy towards the "infiltrators" is based on the defense of the Jewish state. This policy includes the decrease in the flow of migrants -which has been possible through regulatory regulations and the fence built on the border-, and the elimination of the 'infiltrators' in the country.

 

Additionally, the prime minister has indicated that an international agreement has been achieved, which allows his cabinet to authorize deportations of Africans to other countries, with a kind of support from the international community.

 

Although one of the great doubts lies on where these migrants will end up, the international pact mentioned by Netanyahu seems to involve Rwanda and possibly Uganda. Thus, migrants would not necessarily end up returning to their home countries where they expect greater problems.

 

A report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) explains that the danger assumed by these expatriates is very high, since their countries are not very welcoming. In places like Sudan, the prison term for having stepped on Israeli soil is at least 10 years.

In the proposal presented by Netanyahu, one can find the creation of the border wall with Egypt and the resurgence of migration policies. This represents, as said by local authorities, a turning point in the fight against illegal immigration.


On Sunday, December 31, the Ministers of the Interior and Public Security, Aryeh Deri and Gilad Erdan, agreed to start the closure of the Holot detention center, as Benjamin Netanyahu had previously indicated. According to Minister Erdan, "we are closing Holot to send a clear message to illegal immigrants: the State of Israel is focused on returning normalcy to the lives of the inhabitants of southern Tel Aviv, and on removing the tens of thousands of immigrants illegal throughout the country. "


Where do these migrants come from?

The exodus of Africans, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea, began in early 2000 due to the political situation in those nations. Unfortunately, the situation has been increasing over the years.

 

The first waves of Sudanese and Eritreans to Israel date back to 2006. Even though the Israeli government has taken different measures of containment as, the wall created on the border with Egypt, migrants continue to cross the boarders.

 

Immigrants arrive to Israel fleeing the abuses in their origin country. Most of these Africans come to Israel through the Sinai desert in Egypt and try to seek political asylum in this country, even though numerous accusations have been made regarding the reception conditions in Israel and the lack of guarantees.

According to Gerry Simpson, Associate Director of the HRW Refugee Rights Program and HRW's report on the situation, the thousands of Sudanese and Eritreans who live currently in Israel are in a political limbo. On one side, they are denied the condition of political asylum because they are considered a threat against the Jewish state. On the other hand, they are presented with the options of living in a desert detention center or returning to their countries of origin.

 

In fact, in Israel these migrants are considered 'infiltrators' and are associated with waves of crime in cities such as Tel Aviv.

 

LatinAmerican Post | Laura Delgado

 

Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza

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