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Israelis build the world’s biggest detention centre

Thousands of African asylum-seekers fleeing persecution could end up in Negev desert camp Israel is to begin construction soon on a vast detention facility in the Negev desert to house the thousands of immigrants that cross

Thousands of African asylum-seekers fleeing persecution could end up in Negev desert camp

Israel is to begin construction soon on a vast detention facility in the Negev desert to house the thousands of immigrants that cross illegally into Israel from Egypt every year.

Human rights groups fear that the detention centre, the largest of its kind in the world, with a capacity to hold 8,000 migrants, will turn into a festering refugee camp, and deprive those escaping persecution at home of their rights to seek asylum in Israel.

The project was approved by Israel’s right-wing government 18 months ago, but many Israelis are uncomfortable about spurning asylum seekers from war-torn African countries given their own history as a nation of refugees.

“We’ll do all it takes to provide reasonably humane conditions,” an unnamed defence official told Israel’s Haaretz newspaper. “We all wish we didn’t have to build such a facility. But we’re in a certain situation due to certain circumstances, and we need a facility to address these needs.”

The facility, which will be built on the grounds of Ketziot prison near Israel’s southern border, will accommodate migrants, including women and children, for up to three years before they are deported to their country of origin; those from “enemy” states, such as Sudan, who cannot be repatriated, could be detained indefinitely.

The centre, which will include medical, community and sports facilities, is intended to tackle an immigration problem that politicians say threatens to overwhelm Israel’s population of 7.5 million. Speaking 18 months ago, the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said it was time “to stop this growing influx that threatens Israelis’ jobs and changes the character of the state”.

Every year, thousands of Africans, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea, begin the arduous journey to Israel via the arid Sinai Peninsula, a lawless territory where Bedouin traffickers extract huge fees to smuggle refugees past Egyptian border patrols.

Israel’s Interior Ministry estimates that 17,000 people crossed the Israel-Egypt border last year, many more than in previous years. They may have been spurred by Israel’s decision to build a sturdy border fence backed up with electronic surveillance equipment.

Reut Michaeli, director of the Hotline for Migrant Workers, said that building a detention centre would do little to deter those in genuine need. “People fleeing for their lives… will not stop coming because they face three years in detention,” she said.

Israel claims that most asylum seekers are economic migrants, a view reflected in the number that gain refugee status each year – less than 1 per cent of the total.

But human rights groups say that most of the Sudanese and Eritrean migrants are escaping persecution at home, citing worldwide figures from last year that claim 84 per cent of Eritreans seeking asylum, and around 60 per cent of Sudanese migrants, were eligible for refugee status.

At present, Israel has a policy of not deporting migrants back to Eritrea and Sudan because of the unstable situation there. However, it does not recognise them as refugees.

Source:The Independent

Review overview
  • Kabbire March 11, 2012

    the gubie of Eritrians in Awasa are prove the writer mr. Tewelde is immature wrong.
    we the people will change eritria with dr Berhanu as our leader.
    listen to this laughing good news

  • Semhar March 11, 2012

    The Israel should help Eritreans in Israeli camps
    by training and arming the young Eritreans to over through the tyrant dictator in ERITREA.

    • Haile March 12, 2012

      i fully approve your strategy, that would have been very easiest way to Eritreans to free any of the captives and continue struggle against HGDF. The leaders of the oppostion need to understand this one is very important and they should collaborate with the Israil. That can be very effective action against any enemies and against HGDF in particur

  • Semhar March 12, 2012

    Israeli should help Eritreans in Israel to liberate Eritrea!

    The Israel should help Eritreans.

    The Israeli must help the Eritrean refugees in Israel,
    by training and arming them
    to over through the tyrant dictator in ERITREA.

    Let freedom ring in Eritrea!

    • ahmed saleh March 12, 2012

      Sorry Semhar, going back to our history Eritreans are wary from foreign
      inervention. We should control our rage not to be possessed by negative
      outcome. Any action must be mastered only by Eritreans free from any
      foreign influence. We proved it before and we can prove it again if there
      is determination. Self-reliance `was` and is the motto of Eritreans, lets
      implement it with up-graded constructive and victorious way.

      • ahmed saleh March 12, 2012

        read as intervention instead inervention pls.

        • Haile March 12, 2012

          Ahmed Salh. I don’t mind your views are correct today.
          Thats what we hear from HGDF and its puppets in order to destroy oppossition. They say ‘ no interference’ Welll who likes interference, but if you are going to be killed and you have aid, you need to have support so that, you could defend your self. I approve Semhars’s view, Israel must train and Arming Eritrean so we could free the sinia aptive and who knows we could continue entering our country to destroy the dictatorial regime. Otherwise if you start inside Eritrea you need all the equipment and support. HGDF has full of equipment…you can’t say no interference.

          • ahmed saleh March 12, 2012

            I respect to express your different view than
            mine in civility. My objection is to outside forces not to exploit our current situation to intervene
            militarily. Incase any kind of intervention to save our brothers in Sinnai, I am 100% with you. But do not forget Eritrea is a new born country which endured abuses from foreign powers for too long
            years. Now we are in different era with our own problems, so to find outside help to solve the problem give an impression of weakness. That is why I mentioned Eritreans self-reliance means independently from no- one and take care our business our way. People’s power teached us recently, it is more powerfull than the military
            power. On the other hand politics is a dirty game and that is the reason which make me fearfull and paranoid. Any move must be initiated and
            mastered by Eritreans agreement and we should position on the driver side.

    • Kiros gerelase March 12, 2012

      Semhar Tulkuy

      neseka keydka Liberate zeytigebir, nimen tixibe aleka.
      feshkuwal shenayi ab siriu.

  • Senai March 12, 2012

    When the jews build a second Ausschwitz (Holocaust of WWII), then they must know that theey are going to be burned there them selves and as ever no one is going to sympathyze with them. So evil as the jews are – hell with the ugly and evil zionists. It is the jews who are conspiring in the region and especially in Eritrea!!!!