13 February 2008

Ethiopia: Israel to Help Ethiopian Immigrants Integrate Better

Addis Ababa — The Israeli government is to launch a new five-year program which aims at integrating Ethiopian immigrants in to the Israeli society better, according to a news report.

The initiative whose budget has been approved particularly intends to boost the level of participation of Ethiopian immigrants in the Israeli labor market.

"One of the initiative's main goals is to reduce unemployment numbers which currently exceed 18 percent, and increase the level of immigrants' participation in the labor market which stands on 50 percent, compared with 60 percent among the Jewish sector," the report noted," the Israeli newspaper Haaretz said on its website on Monday.

It said the program also aims at increasing the percentage of Ethiopian pupils eligible for matriculation and enrolled in university, as well as helping soldiers from the community reach higher positions in the Israel Defense Forces, and assisting newly-weds to move into better neighborhoods, the report indicated.

The report said the initiative was consolidated by six government institutions headed by the Prime Minister's Office and in cooperation with Ethiopian community leaders.

"Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting that the program's chances of success depended on the level of cooperation with representatives from the Ethiopian community," the report indicated.

According to the report, the program whose budget it said runs at NIS 870 million for the five years, includes helping unemployed immigrants integrate in the job market, as well as assisting families with child-care so that both parents will be able to work.

It said pupils will be provided with extra schooling hours in preparation for the matriculation exams.

The percentage of IDF recruits among Ethiopian immigrants is particularly high and stands on 90 percent, the report said citing recent research findings.

Nevertheless, a large majority of those recruited serve in less-esteemed positions, and therefore the initiative would also help provide them with pre-army preparation courses, it added.


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