NGO report denounces migrant conditions in Israel

Overcrowding, lack of food and interpreters for 5,000 Africans

29 February, 17:00

    African asylum migrants outside open detention center in Holot African asylum migrants outside open detention center in Holot

    TEL AVIV - Inadequate internment conditions suffered by thousands of African migrants in Israel have been documented in a report published on Monday by the Israeli NGO Hotline for Migrant Workers (Moked). On the basis of dozens of accounts, Moked described overcrowding in the Saharonim (Negev), in the nearby Holot center on the border with Egypt and in the Ghivon and Yahalom prisons near the Tel Aviv airport. About 5,000 African migrants mostly from Eritrea and Sudan are currently being held in these facilities, the report states.
    In Holot - which was holding 3,360 at the end of 2015 - the gates were are left open during the day. The report notes, however, that - given the distance to the nearest city, Beer Sheva - migrants' mobility is severely hampered and there is no possibility of working. A lack of interpreters, leaving the migrants unaware of their rights and legal position, as well as inadequate healthcare and the possibility to provide for themselves, even in jail, are some of the problems noted. Others spoke of pressure from the authorities to leave Israel and return to Africa, which by law would entitle them to funds to deal with basic needs in a different country. About 40-45,000 African migrants currently live in Israel.
    Funded with help from Heinrich Boll Stiftung and the Foundation for Migration, Population and Environment, the report notes that by law Israel facilitates immigration only for Jews.
    It also reiterates that migrants should be detained only under exceptional circumstances and that all others should have the right to move freely in Israel. Until this happens, the bare minimum that must be done is to improve living conditions in the places where they are detained, it concluded. 

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