Israel begins sending Eritreans home despite rights concerns

(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

(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.

“GRAVE VIOLATION”

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.

(Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Mark Heinrich)

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15 COMMENTS
  • Kombishtato July 15, 2013

    This is a human rights violation that needs to be condemned in full force. Sending Eritrean refugees with only $US 1,500 to lawless Eritrea to those who risked their life through Sudan and Egypt’s cruel border police that shoot-to-kill and their savage Arab Bedouin cousins?!
    I agree with Rosen who said:
    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.”

    • Nahom July 16, 2013

      Even the $1,500 will be confiscated by Janda Shefatu.

    • Mike July 17, 2013

      Deport them! They were after all issayas supporters?

  • josef July 15, 2013

    What happened to the unknown third country that was willing to take them? or may be it was a Jewish joke to prevent the immigrants from demonstrations and hunger strikes?

  • ssara1 July 16, 2013

    እዚ ሰላማዊ ሰልፊ አብ ሽወደን ክንደፍአሉን ክንሰርሓሉን ይግባእ። ህግደፍ ሑቑኡ ተሲሩ ለይለይ ዝብል ዘሎ ስርዓት ህግደፍ ንሓዋሩ ክንጽድፎ አሎና። ህግደፍ አብ መወዳእታ ጫፍ በጺሑ ኤለትሪክን፤ ማይን ፤ትራንስፖርት ክቕርብ አብ ዘየክእለሉ ግዜ በጺሑ አሎ። እሞኸ ሓውኻ ካብ ግፍዒ አዲኻ ካብ ድኽነት ሓፍትኻ ካብ ኢድ ራሻይዳ ክተውጽኣ እንተኾንኳ እቲ ግዜ ሕጅ ኢዩ። ሓይልኻ አብ ህግደፍ እምበር አብ ሑሉፍ ታሪኽ ትንታኒ ጊሮም ዘዳኽሙኻ ለብመሎም። ንህግደፍ ግዜ ንኸረክብ ሓድሽ አርእስቲ እናምጽኡ ሸንኮለል ዘብሉኻ ዘለው……ከም ዓሻ ካብ ቀንዲ ጉዳይ የውጽኻ ስለዘለው ለብም አብ ቀንዲ ጉዳይካ እሰር……ብሽም ዲስ ኢንፎርመሽን ዝቐርበልካ ዘሎ አርእስቲ ንስኻ ሕጅ ትዝትየሉን ቀንዲ ጸገምካ ንኽፍታሕውን ሓጋዚ ዘይኮነ ጉዳይ ኢዩ።
    ተስእ! ተበራበር….ሕሉፍ ገበናት ምትንታን ገዲፍና ነቲ ሕጅውን ዝቕጽል ዘሎ ገበናት ጠጠው ነብሎ። ኤርትራዊ ብቑጽሪ እናተቐጸር ሓውኻ ሓብትኻ ትሽየጥ አላ። ንስኻ ድማ ሕሉፍ ታሪኽ ገበናት ህዝባዊ ግንባር ህግደፍ ትትንትን አለኻ። አብ ነፍሰውከፍ ደቒቕ ግን ሓብትኻ ሓውኻ ብሓዊ ህግደፍን ራሻይዳን ይጥባሕ አሎ። እሞኸ ድኣ! ንስኻ ሎሚ ስለዘምለጥካ ዓዲ ሰላም ኮይኑ ማለት ድዩ አብ ትሕቲ ዝጠስጠሳ ውድባት ጽላል ኮይንኳ ትትንትን ዘለኻ። ተስእ! ወስ በል!! መቓብር ስውእ ይጽውዓካ አሎ!! መቓብር ሓውኻ ካብ ሳሕል ሲናይ በጺሑ አሎ። ተስእ! ፋኖ በል!!

  • Kalighe July 16, 2013

    “E , stands for Evil, R, stands for retarded , I, stands for insane ,, T , stands for trouble some , R stands for ruined, E stands for epileptic , A stands for arrogant bitch….spells Eritrea.”

    Weysebdeqey Mahbula (aka NEW HOPE ERITREA)

    https://www.facebook.com/weysebdeqey.mahbula

    • NEW HOPE ERITREA July 16, 2013

      Kalighe,

      ,I am impressed ,you or someone like you created my CLON ,Face Book under ,Weysebdeqey.. ,brave work ,say hi ,TO ADHANOM GEBREMARIAM ,MESFIN HAGOS & WEDI BLATA .

      YOUR SICK JOKE IS NOT AMUSING US ,BUT IT SHOWS MY COMMENTS ARE HITTING HOME ,I HOPE YOU HAVE DELIVERED IT TO FELLOW WEDI ARBAA ,ISAIAS.

      ኣዝማድካ ኣስመራ መጺኦም ሓተላ ግለት ይእክቡ ንስኻ ድማ ሓተላ ግለት ትፈጥር።Keep up yor dirty Job.

      If you arwe obssesed with me I only date women ,you gonna have to go to SAN FRANCISCO.

      Hawka

  • ramos July 16, 2013

    Returning eritreans to home,could be the solution for the long lasting trouble of eritrea.the returnees either willl overthrow the brutal regime or will be chawed by the evil monster.any way,let it happen.if there is no recognition of almighty,this is obvious.

  • Williams July 16, 2013

    To Ssara1,
    What does “Fanno”mean?
    Better to think over your tigria than other.We do care ours just leave it to eritreans!!

  • NEW HOPE ERITREA July 16, 2013

    Kalighe,

    ,I am impressed ,you or someone like you created my CLON ,Face Book under ,Weysebdeqey.. ,brave work ,say hi ,TO ADHANOM GEBREMARIAM ,MESFIN HAGOS & WEDI BLATA .

    YOUR SICK JOKE IS NOT AMUSING US ,BUT IT SHOWS MY COMMENTS ARE HITTING HOME ,I HOPE YOU HAVE DELIVERED IT TO FELLOW WEDI ARBAA ,ISAIAS.

    ኣዝማድካ ኣስመራ መጺኦም ሓተላ ግለት ይእክቡ ንስኻ ድማ ሓተላ ግለት ትፈጥር።Keep up yor dirty Job.

    If you arwe obssesed with me I only date women ,you gonna have to go to SAN FRANCISCO.

    Hawka…

    • Kalighe July 18, 2013

      “ኣዝማድካ ኣስመራ መጺኦም ሓተላ ግለት ይእክቡ ንስኻ ድማ ሓተላ ግለት ትፈጥር።Keep up yor dirty Job”

      NEW HOPE ERITREA

      Daily you come to this blog you throw a few lines of hate message and try to create an impression that you are an ordinary Joe with poor writing skills. In reality you are one of the most dangerous people I have ever seen. As we have seen in your Facebook page (that you closed few days back, after being exposed) you are a highly skilled writer. I just wonder what benefit you get when you try to confuse people about your identity, because many on this blog know who you are ?. I am really impressed by your Tigrigna poetry skills, although you are using it to humiliate Eritreans. It’s naive to think because you command good Tigrigna people will take you easily as Eritrean. People know that there are tens of thousands of Tigreyans who speak the same language with Eritrean accent, for having lived for long time in Eritrea. You keep insulting us ” እምባሕ ጥራይ ንበል ወዲ ኤረና ” as if Eritreans are a herd of cattle.
      Here is another insult from the facebook page that you were forced to close:

      ” ..Eritreans during Italian colony regarded being whipped face down by fascist soldier as a badge of honor..showing off their whipped ass to their friends with pride…well , like father like son like grandson…Eritreanism is hatred of self & invented history, that makes them real Eritreans.”

      I knew that you were going to do something to hide what you had written there, so before posting about you facebook.com here, I showed it to my friends. As long as you keep insulting my people using different names, I won’t let you in peace, you will be exposed again and again.

  • Kabbire July 16, 2013

    dear New Hope Eritrea,
    Welcome back. Your honest and down to earth remarks and opinions are needed more than ever in a land full of hypocrites and cowards who would never dare to condemn the Higdef regime or the evil Arabs of Egypt and the Sudanese police in Gedarif and shegeraib.

    • NEW HOPE ERITREA July 16, 2013

      Brother Kabbire ,

      I feel sad for our people ,Kalighe a very articulate person & Zaul ,he has thought me many things ..then they act childish even infantil ,that I was Derg´s soldier or from temben or…etc..why did not we say no when Meles Ethiopian signed this fake independence ,It would have thought a lesson to me & all others if they challenged me on the merit. ¨WE KNOW you threat does not work with me¨ ..& who am I though this fellow citzerns make me bigger than I am .They could have organized to save Trench & Sinai rescue team .I have a clear message.

      thanks Kabbire ,I want you to fill bad for our Eritrea that we are It !!!

  • jose July 17, 2013

    n a larger sense, the dispute is compounded by a perceived power shift in the whole region.

    Egypt, the long-time kingpin in North and Eastern Africa, and a powerhouse in the Arab world, appears in decline at the very time that Ethiopia, the second largest country in Africa and with an equally large population, is on the rise.

    Though still desperately poor, Ethiopia has surprised the world over the past decade with the highest economic growth rate on the continent (close to 10 per cent annually on average for most of the past decade). It has a newly assertive middle class and a strong modernization program in the works.

  • Logo July 17, 2013

    Dear All, Sere’ is a village found in Zoba Debub – Nus Zoba Mai-Ayni and those who are from Sere’ are planning to make a teleconference fundraising event to support our older families in back. Please therefore send your email address to logo.sarda@yahoo.com so we can arrange a convenient time to discuss on how we can support them.
    Please also forward this message to anyone who is form Sere’ and who is willing to support.
    Your help in this regard is highly appreciated.
    Thanks

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