Gov´t muddles through migrant question (YNetNews.Com -Yedioth Internet) Omri Efraim Published: 05.31.12, 12:08)
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Infiltrator, asylum seeker, refugee, illegal migrants; all words used
to describe the influx from Africa. Yet definition could completely
alter course of how State deals with what some have called
The debate over the classification of 60,000 African migrants who are
currently residing in Israel is continuing at full throttle.
Israel´s policy is to not deport the majority, some 53,000 who are
mostly Sudanese and Eritrean. They receive temporary asylum
accordance with the commitment to UN and international treaties that
Israel is party too.
The majority of foreign infiltrators who cross the border illegally
are captured by the IDF and brought to the Saharonim facility in the
Those who identify themselves as Eritrean and Sudanese are questioned
by the Population and Immigration Authority but their eligibility for
refugee status is not examined. This, because if they are declared
refugees, Israel will have to afford them rights and privileges of a
If their claims of Eritrean or Sudanese citizenship is confirmed they
receive a 2A5 Visa, which clearly states that the permit does not
constitute a work visa but in fact, in light of the State´s
commitment to the High Court from January 2011, the visa allows the
foreigners to work and prevents their employers from being penalized
until the construction of the holding facility is completed.
Foreigners who leave the Saharonim facility receive travel vouchers
and most of them end up in southern Tel Aviv.
In a special interview given to Ynet, Eritrea´s Ambassador to Israel
Tesfamariam Tekeste called on his fellow Eritreans who are residing
in Israel to return to Eritrea. "Those who wish to stay here can, but
those who wish to leave – we say to them – you are welcome to come
home. To those who return I say, your safety is ensured. This is your
homeland, no one will hurt you."
According to the ambassador, "the infiltrators who come to Israel are
seeking work. There is no political issue nor is it a matter of
political prosecution, it is simply an economic matter. When they
come here they say they are seeking asylum because they want to stay
here and make good money. Some of them just want to avoid military
The ambassador noted: "If they really are asylum seekers or refugees,
why are they crossing the borders of so many countries? According to
the UN´s definition, an asylum seeker must seek asylum from the first
country they encounter."
Sharon Harel from the UNHCR paints a different picture. "It is true
that when a person is seeking asylum they are supposed to request it
from the first country they get to, but according to international
law, in certain circumstances – if the first or second country are
found to be unsafe because of their human rights record or due to the
inaccessibility of their asylum seeking process – the asylum seeker
may then cross the borders of more than two countries."
Professor Galia Tzabar from Tel Aviv University´s Department of
Middle Eastern and African History claims that the "situation is more
complicated than that presented by the ambassador and (the one)
presented by some human rights organizations."
According to the professor: "The Eritrean regime is tyrannical,
centralized and undemocratic, one that does not respect human rights
like the west. A regime that interferes in all areas of civilian life
and under which the citizens suffer from lack of freedom and are
obliged to (enter) military service for an unlimited period."
Yet Tzabar stressed: "Yet this is still not the most oppressive and
violent regime in Africa or the world. The fact is that a group of
Eritrean pilgrims visited Israel, and managed to afford the trip and
return to their country. You can´t paint an entirely grim picture of
On that matter Tzabar stresses: "There is a very thin line between
escaping political persecution and seeking asylum to avoid poverty."
(Copyright 2012 © Yedioth Internet 05/31/12)
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