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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid