Israel coercing thousands Africans to flee: HRW

Ahram Online, Tuesday 9 Sep 2014

HRW report condemns Israel's 'transparently abusive' treatment of Eritrean and Sudanese migrants

An African man sits on the ground after being detained by Israel
An African man sits on the ground after being detained by Israel's military for crossing illegally into Israel from Egypt, some 50 kilometres (31 miles) north of the southern city of Eilat, November 22, 2010 (Photo: Reuters)

Human Rights Watch conducted a report on Tuesday that documents how Israeli authorities have unlawfully coerced almost 7,000 Eritrean and Sudanese nationals into returning to their countries at grave personal risk.

The report says that some returning Sudanese have faced torture, arbitrary detention, and treason charges at the hands of the anti-Israeli Sudanese government, while returning Eritreans also risk harassment.

The 83 page report “‘Make Their Lives Miserable:’ Israel’s Coercion of Eritrean and Sudanese Asylum Seekers to Leave Israel,” slams Israeli officials and urges them to end the indefinite detention of Eritreans and Sudanese nationals and all policies aimed at coercing them to leave the country.

According to the report over the past eight years, the Israeli authorities have taken various coercive measures to “make their lives miserable” and “encourage the illegals to leave,” in the words of former Israeli interior minister Eli Yishai and current Israeli interior minister Gideon Sa’ar.

Gerry Simpson the author of the report that slammed Israel said that "destroying people's hope of finding protection by forcing them into a corner and then claiming they are voluntarily leaving Israel is transparently abusive,"

"Eritreans and Sudanese in Israel are left with the choice of living in fear of spending the rest of their days locked up in desert detention centers or of risking detention and abuse back home," Simpson said.

"Since 2006 some 50,000 Eritreans and Sudanese have entered Israel illegally via the Sinai desert, causing great consternation in the mainly poor Israeli neighbourhoods where they have settled. Neighbourhood residents say the migrants engage in petty crime and help turn the areas into slums " AP reported.

HRW also urged the United States and other international donors to press Israel to stop its coercion and to allow the UN refugee agency to monitor all parts of Israel’s asylum process.

As AP reported the Israeli interior ministry spokesperson Sabine Haddad responded that Israel was dealing with the challenge of the migrants in a legal and appropriate way.

"The growth in the voluntary repatriation of the migrants by three times from 2013 to 2014 proves that the policy is working," she said in an email.



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