lunedì 12 dicembre 2011

Israel Approves $160 Million Plan To Stop Illegal Immigration From Africa

By: EW News Desk Team  12 December 2011

Israeli will spend $160 million in the upcoming months to secure its borders from African migrants who enter the country illegally, announced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday.

A large portion of the money will go toward the construction of a security fence along Israel’s border with Egypt, where nearly 2,000 African migrants are smuggled through every month.
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Since 2006, Israeli officials estimate that some 50,000 Africans, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea, have illegally entered the country through its porous border with the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. According to these officials, the overwhelming majority of the migrants were not refugees escaping persecution, but had instead come to Israel to seek better economic opportunities.
Addressing his Cabinet, Netanyahu said the swelling stream of migrants was “a national scourge.”
“If we don’t take action to stanch this illegal flow, then we will simply be inundated,” said Netanyahu, as quoted by the Washington Post.
The Israeli Prime Minister also warned that unless something was done, the country would face an influx of nearly 100,000 illegal immigrants every year.
Yet, some Israelis remained unconvinced by the government’s posturing. Many activists believe that the majority of the Africans arriving in Israel were indeed bona fide refugees and should thus be granted asylum.
Across the world, 88 percent of Eritrean migrants who seek asylum are recognized as refugees,” said Reut Michaeli, an attorney for The Hotline for Migrant Workers. “I find it very difficult to believe that the ones who come to Israel are any different.”
The situation has also sparked debate among many Israelis, some of whom fear that the mounting non-Jewish arrivals will compromise the state’s Jewish character, while others argue that the country should have special sensitivity for those fleeing prejudice and conflict, given the nature of the Israeli state itself.           
In an interview with Israel Radio, Michaeli said that Israel was a nation of refugees that was established by refugees, and therefore it had an obligation to open its doors to Africans who were fleeing from war and persecution. Other Israelis also recalled how Western countries had turned away Jewish refugees who were trying to escape from the holocaust in Europe during World War II.
The Israeli government, as such, has been careful to position the arrivals as economic, rather than political, migrants.
“We hear the outcry coming from Israel’s cities...We will continue to care for refugees, but they make up a minimal part of the human wave,” said Netanyahu, as quoted by the New York Times. “Entire populations are starting to move, and if we don’t act to stop this we will be flooded.”
Netanyahu intends to travel to Africa early next year in order to discuss with its leaders over the possible repatriation of some of the illegal immigrants currently being held in Israel’s detention centres.
"This is a national calamity, in every field," he said, as quoted byAFP"We have no obligation to accept illegal infiltrators, and I distinguish between them and the question of refugees, who are but a minuscule component of this human deluge."
Apart from the security fence, Israel also intends to use part of the money to fund the construction of a new detention facility, as well as to extend the period that illegal migrants can be detained to three years. The government also wants to increase policing of companies that hire any illegal workers.First Name
If need be, we will close businesses so that the enterprise known as the State of Israel does not close,” said Netanyahu after the cabinet meeting on Sunday.

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