Eritrean migrants living in Tel Aviv 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Dozens of Eritrean migrants have relocated to Sweden in recent weeks following
an agreement brokered between the government of Sweden and the United Nations
High Commission for Refugees in Israel, it emerged on Tuesday.
resettlement - which Israeli NGOs said included 54 Eritrean women – was part of
the “ongoing process of willful deportation to Sweden,” according to the
Interior Ministry, which reported the deal on Tuesday. They added that the move
was also done in collaboration with the United Nations and that each Eritrean
migrant received a payment of $3,500.
According to ministry figures, a
total of 2,612 migrants willfully left Israel in 2013, of these 1,955 were from
Sudan and 461 from Eritrea. The ministry said that in 2012, the number was a
total of 461, out of a total of around 54,000 African migrants that are in
Israel, according to government figures. The NGO ASSAF, which works with African
asylum seekers in Israel, said that they took a role in the process as well, and
that the Israeli government was not part of the initiative.
Pinchuk, the Executive Director of ASSAF said Tuesday that a Swedish government
delegation was recently in Israel and met with them and other NGOs and African
migrants, including women who she said were trafficked to Israel and had gone
through torture in Sinai. Pinchuk said these women were not given assistance by
Israel, and that her organization helped find a group of these women to sign up
for the resettlement. She said a number of the women left Israel for Sweden from
the Saharonim prison in Israel's south, where they were being held. She added
that Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar gave the approval for them to leave for
“As an Israeli I am embarrassed that my country avoided providing
support to the victims of torture. The Swedish Representatives heard of the
difficult situation the victims were under in Israel and turned to the UNHCR in
order to absorb a number who were given refugee status immediately,” Pinchuk
The Interior Ministry said that their decision to publish
the relocation deal on Tuesday was not related to the ongoing protests by
African migrants in Israel.