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Hundreds of asylum seekers march to UN offices in Tel Aviv, shout: Where are you?
February 13, 2014 13:01
Protesters from Sudan and Eritrea hold signs and protest in front of United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
African migrants

African migrants protest in Tel Aviv. (photo credit:LAUREN IZSO)

Video by Lauren Izso

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Hundreds of African asylum seekers protested outside of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees offices in Tel Aviv. on Thursday.

According to Army Radio, the group of asylum seekers set out from Levinski Park in south Tel Aviv and marched to the UN offices, carrying signs reading, "1951," the year that the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees was signed. The convention is the key legal document in defining who is a refugee, their rights and the legal obligations of states.

The protestors held the signs and shouted their claim for refugee status in Israel, shouting, "Representatives of the UN, where are you?"

During the rally, the group's spokesman spoke to an head of the UN Comission for Refugees. The official came out to address the protesters, urging them to write their plea to the Israeli Population, Immigration, and Borders Authority (PIBA).

The demonstration follows a month of protests in which African migrants have held marches and rallies in Tel Aviv to protest the implementation of the amendment to the Anti-Infiltration Law and the Holot open detention facility in the South, where hundreds of African migrants have been jailed since it opened last month.

Following the opening of the facility, hundreds of Africans walked out and began marching to Beersheba and later Jerusalem. It was an act that marked the beginning of what appears to be a full-on grassroots protest movement by the African asylum-seeker community, which numbers around 54,000 in Israel, according to official government figures.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has stated about the the African migrants' demands, "protests wont help, nor will strikes." He also added, "We absolutely stopped the infiltration into Israel and now we are determined to remove from Israel the illegal work infiltrators that entered Israel.”

Ben Hartman contributed to this report.

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