100 more African refugees arrive, sent to Beersheba hotel

By
July 6, 2007 00:05

Refugees enter Israel despite the government's recent decision to stop accepting them and to begin returning existing asylum seekers to Egypt.

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Nearly 100 African refugees have arrived in Israel in the past week, despite the government's recent decision to stop accepting refugees and to begin returning existing asylum seekers to Egypt. The new refugee were dumped by the IDF on a crowded Beersheba street corner. They have been placed at the Desert Inn, known in Hebrew as the Ne'ot Hamidbar Hotel, along with 125 other refugees who have recently arrived. Last Sunday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced that he had reached an agreement with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to return more than 2,000 African refugees to Egypt. Mubarak promised they would be placed in protected areas and kept safe from the militias that have claimed the lives of hundreds of refugees in Egypt. Sources in the Prime Minister's Office said that the plan would be implemented "immediately," but NGOs that work with the refugees have not seen any moves to prepare them for a return to Africa. "We have not seen any kind of framework or mechanism being put into place to carry out this plan," said one official close to the refugees. "There is work being done to take some sort of action before the plan can be implemented. We still need to see exactly what is being discussed here." There are thousands of African refugees in Israel. Nearly 1,100 of are from Sudan, including 250 to 300 from Darfur, said officials from Amnesty International. The Prime Minister's Office promised to take "special care" of the refugees from Sudan, and has asked the UN to issue recommendations for individuals who could be in danger in Egypt. The UN is currently interviewing each refugee to document their cases.


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