Israel offers Eritrean refugees an option: deportation or jail [Martin Plaut]

Evidence from the Holot detention centre in Israel shows that Eritrean and Sudanese detainees are being given a choice between deportation to an unnamed “third country” or imprisonment.

This information was sent by Israeli human rights activists working with the Hotline for Migrant Workers. They suggest that the unnamed African country is, in fact, Uganda. This practice has been reported in the past, putting terrible pressure on the refugees.

The letter does not mention the name of the third country and the Immigration Authority officials refused to reveal the name of the country during the interview when asked. The asylum-seekers who underwent the hearing (we know of at least seven Eritreans who did) were told that if they do not leave Israel within 30 days, they will be jailed in Saharonim prison for African refugees in the Negev desert indefinitely.

The question now is: what is the UNHCR – whose mandate is to protect refugees – doing to halt this?

Below is a letter which was given to a detainee. And this is the translation.

Israeli deportation letter“Important information for refugees who want to leave Israel voluntarily

After many months of trying we have managed to find a country that will accept you. This country is safe for you and will be able to provide work and living permit.

This country, for the past ten years has been developing and many of its citizens have returned from abroad. It has also created opportunity for other citizens from African countries to work in the country.

This country for the past years has recoded economic growth; it is considered one of the biggest in Africa. It was praised by European and American experts.

As this country’s economic growth is very good it has a stable government, it has helped it to have good infrastructure on education, health, transportation.

The Ministry Of Interior of Israel, will give 3,500$ per person for Eritreans and Sudanese who are willing to leave the country. This money is good compensation.

For Eritrean and Sudanese nationals willing to leave voluntarily, representatives of immigration Israel will provide assistance from getting the travel document before departure, they are ready to answer any questions you might have.

The money you will receive will be provided at the time of departure.

When you arrive at the third country there will be someone to receive you at the airport, give you information on how you can live in the country and other necessary information.

The first day of arrival in the country you will be placed in a hotel. Everything that you need, work and living permit (Visa) will be given to you.

Those Eritrean and Sudanese who left previously to a third country through the help of the Israeli government are very happy in that country. They have informed us that they are learning English, working and earning good pay, some have opened a business and are living well.”

Filed in: Current Affairs / News