Voice of America (Washington, DC)

6 January 2014

African Refugees Protest Israeli Migrant Laws

Photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org
Activists from the Eritrean community held a press conference in Tel Aviv to expose journalists to the difficult situation in Eritrea and to protest the deportation of 15 Eritrean men from Israel (file photo).

Thousands of African migrants are marching for a second-straight day in Tel Aviv to protest what they say is harsh treatment from the Israeli government.

The march Monday includes stops at the embassies of the United States and several European countries, as the migrants try to draw attention to their desire for asylum and an end to laws that could place them in detention or forbid them to work.

Israel's parliament passed a new last last month allowing authorities to indefinitely detain migrants who lack valid documents and ban them from jobs.

The representative for the U.N. refugee agency in Israel, Walpurga Englbrecht, criticized Israel's policy in a statement Sunday. She highlighted a new detention facility in Israel's southern desert that she said appears to operate as a place from which "there is no release."

Migrants held at the Holot facility can leave for part of the day, but must return each night.

Most of the Africans came from Eritrea and Sudan seeking asylum from poverty, violence and political chaos.

Israeli authorities consider the migrants infiltrators and illegals. Officials have built a fence along the Egyptian border to try to keep them out.

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InFocus

African Migrants Want Refugee Status in Israel

Activists from the Eritrean community held a press conference in Tel Aviv to expose journalists to the difficult situation in Eritrea and to protest the deportation of 15 Eritrean men from Israel (file photo).

African migrants continue their protest outside the Israeli parliament to oppose a new law that allows the indefinite detention of those without valid visas. Read more »