News / Middle East

Israel Deports Eritreans Despite Rights Concerns

Eritreans demonstrate against new deportation regulations in Tel Aviv, Israel, on June 29, 2012.
Eritreans demonstrate against new deportation regulations in Tel Aviv, Israel, on June 29, 2012.
Reuters
Israel has launched a forced repatriation of Eritrean migrants that amounts to a grave violation of their human rights because of the risk of persecution in their reclusive homeland, an advocacy group said on Monday.

Israeli authorities have been trying to curb an influx of Africans that has ignited resentment in the poorer neighborhoods in which they dwell and compounded the fears of many Israelis about eventually being outnumbered in the Jewish state. But humanitarian groups say that forcibly returning African migrants home often exposes them to rights abuses including torture.

Some 60,000 Africans, including 35,000 Eritreans, have walked over a long porous desert border with Egypt into Israel since 2006, Israeli government figures show, and many live in gritty districts of Tel Aviv.

Israel regards most as illegal job-seekers but rights agencies say many should be considered for political asylum because of poor human rights records of their home governments.

Hotline for Migrant Workers (HMW), an Israeli human rights group, said an initial group of 14 Eritrean men were flown to Asmara, the Eritrean capital, on Sunday, after receiving $1,500 each from Israeli authorities.

They were driven to the airport from one of two desert detention centers that Israel has expanded. A law passed a year ago, and now being contested in its high court, allows the country to jail migrants it says arrived illegally.

A spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry declined to comment on the HMW report, other than to say that some “people are returning home.” She did not give their nationalities.

The men who left on Sunday were the first sent back to  Eritrea, which was accused last year by the U.N. human rights chief of practicing torture and summary executions.

Israel had said in the past that it was seeking third-country destinations for Eritreans.

Sigal Rozen, public policy coordinator for HMW, a group that objects to most deportations of migrants, told Reuters the latest repatriations were “a grave human rights violation”.

Rozen said those repatriated had signed consent forms but she argued their agreement could not be seen as voluntary because Israeli authorities made clear the only way they would be freed from detention was by returning home.

She said at least one of the Eritreans had said he was a military deserter, and could face punishment at home.

A Tel Aviv-based representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees monitoring migrants' treatment in Israel had no immediate comment. She said she was seeking confirmation from Israel of the Eritreans' repatriation.

New York-based Human Rights Watch also condemned the new repatriations. In a statement emailed to news media, Gerry Simpson, a senior HRW refugee researcher, accused Israel of “using the threat of prolonged detention to force Eritrean and Sudanese nationals to give up their asylum claims”.

Worldwide, HRW said, around 80 percent of Eritrean asylum seekers are granted some form of protection because of credible fears of persecution relating to punishment for evading indefinite military service in Eritrea and other widespread rights abuses in the small Horn of Africa state.

Last month, an Israeli government lawyer said at a Supreme Court hearing on the legality of detaining asylum-seekers who entered surreptitiously that a deal to resettle “infiltrators from Eritrea” had been reached with a country she did not name.

At least one group of Africans was flown out of Israel to South Sudan in the past year and other migrants have been offered cash to leave voluntarily. Some 2,000 Africans are being held in the southern detention centers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that a fence which Israel completed along most of the Egyptian border earlier this year has significantly reduced the flow of migration from Africa, which hit a peak of 2,000 a month in 2011.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid