Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki recently had harsh words for how Israel treats his countrymen in the country illegally.
“When you consider the life of those in camps, concentration camps, of Israel you can’t even say there is anything worse or more horrific than that,” Afewerki said last weekend in an interview on state television, according to a translation by the blog Dissident Diaries, run by an Eritrean expatriate.
Afewerki visited Israel in 1993 for medical treatment.
Some 54,000 African migrants were in Israel in 2012 according to Interior Ministry figures, and the government is making efforts to resettle them outside of the country.
The government built an open-air detention camp, Holot, in the Negev to house the migrants. Residents are free to leave during the daytime A total of 2,612 illegal migrants voluntarily left Israel in 2013, including 1,955 from Sudan and 461 from Eritrea, according to ministry figures. In 2012, a total of 461 left on their own.
Afewerki said that “even [in] other cities, European cities, you can’t say [Eritreans] are having any life that has much meaning.”
He went on to say his country has not lost anything due to citizens leaving the country, but he asked for them to return.
“Think in terms of where you’ll be in five or six years’ time. The things you are losing today,” he said.
Eritrea separated from Ethiopia after winning its war of independence in 1991 and soon established relations with Israel.
Ben Hartman contributed to this report.