Saturday, August 31, 2013

UN concern that Israel plans to deport asylum-seekers to mystery African country - Middle East - World - The Independent

UN concern that Israel plans to deport asylum-seekers to mystery African country

Human-rights groups fear refugees could be forced to return to the very countries they fled

The UN refugee agency and human-rights groups voiced concern today for the safety of thousands of Sudanese and Eritrean asylum-seekers that Israel says it intends to deport to an unnamed African country, saying the refugees could end up being returned to the very places from which they fled persecution and hardship.
Peter Deck, director of the Israel office of the UN High Commissioner on Refugees, said that contrary to international norms, Israel did not consult the agency when it struck the agreement with the third country, whose identity Israel declines to divulge, although some press reports have identified it as Uganda. “There are standard procedures for any arrangement of movement of asylum-seekers. It is a concern to UNHCR that both Israel and the [other] country did not consult us... Our concerns include the safety of the individuals and the risk of refoulement from that other location.”
Israeli Interior Minister Gideon Saar told Knesset legislators on Wednesday that the special envoy of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Hagai Hadas, had reached an agreement with a third country to absorb Eritreans and Sudanese who crossed from Egypt into Israel over the past six years and whom Israel classifies as “illegal infiltrators”. Mr Hadas has been negotiating with Uganda, among other countries.
Mr Saar said that after the Jewish holidays next month, an organised effort to arrange the departure of Eritreans and Sudanese would be launched. He said they would be called upon to “leave voluntarily” to the third country, according to a defined timetable.
Yochi Gnessin, an Israeli state attorney, has said the transfer would be gradual. Many or most of the Eritreans in Israel fled indefinite military conscription or forced labour. Because of the harsh conditions in Eritrea, Eritreans have a more than 80 per cent asylum recognition rate worldwide. But Israel has not granted refugee status to even one of the 36,000 in the country.
The refugees, many of whom live in slum areas, are seen as a threat by many Israeli residents, and right-wing politicians outbid one another on who can be tougher on the issue. The plans to deport people to a third country come despite the fact that – in contrast to previous years when there was a surge of asylum-seekers – the number now reaching Israel per month is in single digits, due to a fence built along the border with Egypt.
According to a report in the Maariv newspaper in June, Mr Hadas was negotiating with Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Malawi and Kenya to take the refugees. Maariv said Israel was willing to pay $8,000 a head to absorb migrants, while other reports spoke of Israeli agricultural or military assistance to the third country. Yigal Palmor, the foreign-ministry spokesman, said the identity of the third country was being kept secret at that country’s request.
Bill Van Esveld, who monitors the Middle East for the New-York based Human Rights Watch, said: “If ... even the country is secret how is one to know minimum guidelines are being followed with basic protections for these people?

Israeli gov’t deports migrants to Uganda

Israelis from the Ethiopian community demonstrate, calling the government to bring thousands of their loved one from Ethiopia to Israel. AFP photo
Israelis from the Ethiopian community demonstrate, calling the government to bring thousands of their loved one from Ethiopia to Israel. AFP photo
Israel plans to soon begin deporting migrants from Eritrea and Sudan, who number more than 50,000, back to the African continent via Uganda, officials said.

Israel regards most of these Africans as illegal visitors crowding impoverished areas in search of jobs, and largely rejects the position of human rights groups that many fled their countries in search of political asylum.

A statement late Aug. 29 from Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar saidIsrael would soon begin a staged process of deporting the migrants, most of whom crossed the border with neighboring Egypt, Israel’s frontier with Africa, since 2006.

Sa’ar said an agreement had been reached with an African country other than Eritrea and Sudan to absorb these migrants who would soon be urged “to leave of their own free will.”

Michal Rozin, chairwoman of parliament’s committee on foreign workers, said by telephone that Uganda was the country that had agreed to absorb migrants who had settled in Israel. Rozin said there were “rumors” that Uganda may have agreed to the arrangement in exchange for a deal for money and weapons.

Military equipment ‘supplied’ in return

Without mentioning any country by name, the Haaretz newspaper said the nation where African migrants from Israel would be absorbed had recently concluded deals to be supplied with artillery guns and mortars, and to improve an aging fleet of combat aircraft. 

Human rights groups say Israel has jailed hundreds of African migrants and has taken other steps as a pressure tactic to get them to agree to leave the country. In July, a group of 14 Eritreans were repatriated after receiving $1,500 each from Israeli authorities. 

Some 2,000 Africans are being held in the southern detention centers. A fortified fence along Israel’s tense border with Egypt’s Sinai has largely stemmed the flow of migrants who walked across what was once a porous frontier at a rate of up to 2,000 a month in 2011.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Anger as German neo Nazis protest against refugee center YouTube - YouTube

Anger as German neo Nazis protest against refugee center YouTube - YouTube: ""

'via Blog this'

Egypt’s chaos fuels Africa’s human trafficking DW.DE

Egypt’s political unrest has brought suffering not only to its own people but also to hundreds of African refugees. Their goal is Israel but many end up as hostages on the Sinai Peninsula.
Kahassay Woldesselasie simply wanted to get away from Eritrea. He planned to begin a new life in a country where citizens are not as brutally suppressed as in his East African homeland. Eritrea, located in the Horn of Africa, is one of the world's most secretive and repressive regimes.
Woldesselasie initially fled to neighboring Sudan. While there he heard rumors of good jobs being offered in Israel. A human trafficking syndicate offered to take him there. Woldesselasie agreed and fell into their trap. The traffickers abducted him and took him as a hostage to the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula.
On the journey they blindfolded him, there was little food and water. The gangsters threatened to kill him if he did not pay ransom. "You have no choice but to call your relatives," Woldesselasie told DW in an interview. "If they agree to pay, you might be lucky. But if they don't, you're dead."
The lucky and the unlucky

Woldesselasie was one of the lucky ones. Family members living abroad agreed to pay for his release.
An Israeli flag (L) flutters next to an Egyptian one at the Nitzana crossing, along Israel's border with Egypt's Sinai desert. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun (ISRAEL - Tags: POLITICS)Israel refers to asylum seekers from Africa as 'infiltrators'
He was set free and finally managed to cross the border into Israel.
Not many are as lucky as Woldesselasie, says Hamdy al-Azazy, an Egyptian human rights activist who lives in al-Arish, the capital of the North Sinai region. He has met Eritrean refugees who had been held captive for weeks in torture camps.
While their families are listening over the phone, the victims would be subjected to burnings or have their limbs broken. Such painful experiences would then push even the poorest of families to send money. Those who don't comply risk having their relatives being buried in the desert. According to al-Azazy, more than 500 remains of dead bodies of Africans were discovered in the desert in the past years.
The Sinai equation
The Sinai Peninsula has long been a powder keg. The indigenous population consists of Bedouin Arab tribes who settled there several hundred years ago. Today, they only represent about half of the approximately 500,000 inhabitants.
Israel withdrew from the area back in 1982 and left it to the Egyptian state. Egypt then took the best land from the Bedouins, says Günter Meyer, director of the Center for Research on the Arab World at the University of Mainz. "This goes back to a long period of discrimination against the Bedouin population." According to Meyer, the Bedouins were seen by Egyptians as Israeli collaborators, drug smugglers and illiterate."

Meyer however emphasizes that only a small minority of the Bedouin is involved in the criminal gangs that deal in human trafficking.
Several men who are refugees in the Sinai are seated on the ground .According to Human Rights Watch over 1,500 Eritreans flee the country every month
Following the Arab Spring which began in 2011, security forces have been weakened in the Sinai Peninsula giving the traffickers more leeway. The situation has "escalated dramatically," Meyer warns.
There are no known figures for the number of refugees detained in torture camps in the Sinai or how many of those hostages have perished. According to the Israeli government, more than 10,000 illegal immigrants crossed the Sinai border into Israel in 2012. Most of them came from Eritrea and Sudan. But in Israel, a nation once founded by immigrants, the refugees are not welcome. They have little chance of obtaining political asylum. Instead Israel has built a more than 200-kilometer - long (124 miles) fence against them. In the first five months of 2013, only 33 refugees managed to cross the border.

Little international support

The world, including the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), has turned a deaf ear to the plight of these refugees, says human rights activist Hamdy al-Azazy. "They write their reports from their air-conditioned offices in Cairo," he laments.
"Nobody is on site to assess the real situation. I'm the only one here in the midst of all these dangers." There have been several attacks on him, he adds.
The few meager belongings of a refugee lie scattered around the area of the park which he has made his home.
Ashley Gallagher, Tel Aviv May 2013
via: DW/ Robert Mudge African asylum seekers meet with harsh reality in Israel
His office was ransacked, his children have been attacked.

Al-Azazy also raises serious allegations against the Egyptian security forces. According to him victims who manage to escape from the hands of the traffickers are detained as criminals because they are in the country illegally. But the perpetrators of human trafficking enjoy a life of luxury in large villas. He believes the traffickers are supported by Egypt's security agencies.
“Traffickers pay a lot of bribes so that they can freely bring refugees to the Sinai."
Kahassay Woldesselasie does not feel at home in Israel. He hopes that one day peace and freedom will reign in his East African nation so he can return.