'Speed construction of migrants' detention center'
National Planning and Construction Council pushes for Negev holding facility for African migrants to be build faster.
Eritrean migrants: Illustratory Photo: Marc Israel Sellem
The National Planning and Construction Council will push for changes in the
infrastructure of a Negev holding facility for African migrants in order to
allow it to be built faster, according to a statement released by the council on
The council said that the changes to the original plan
approved by the government in March would place more emphasis on tents and
non-permanent buildings in order to expedite the construction of the facility.
However, Interior Minister Eli Yishai said during the meeting that the changes
must not bring with them any sort of decline in the humanitarian standards of
the facility, which is expected to house tens of thousands of
The facility, to be built next to Ketziot Prison in the Negev,
will include public buildings such as schools, religious facilities, social
clubs, employment workshops and open leisure areas.
When complete, the
facility is set to cover some 250 acres of land and house 8,000 to 10,000
people, making it the world’s largest housing facility for asylum
During the meeting, opposition to the adaptations were voiced by
Ramat Negev Regional Council head Samuel Rifman, who said the council would
favor instead a facility like the one approved in March over an open tent city,
even if it took more time to construct. He also called for the Planning and
Construction Council to begin work on a waste-water treatment facility for the
Wednesday’s meeting came as people across the world
marked “World Refugee Day.”
According to figures from the United Nations
High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) there are currently over 42 million forcibly
displaced people in the world, with 4.3 million displaced in 2011. Of these 42
million, 10.4 million are recognized as refugees, and over a quarter of them are
from Afghanistan alone. Of the world’s refugees, 80 percent are hosted in
countries in the developing world, with Pakistan alone housing 1.7 million
refugees, the most of any country on earth.
UNHCR figures state that
800,000 people were displaced as refugees across international borders in 2011,
the most in a decade. The higher number can be linked in large part to the
fighting that has gripped the Arab world over the past year, but also famine in
World Refugee Day also falls on Eritrean Martyrs Day, a
national holiday in Eritrea which commemorates the tens of thousands who died in
the 30-year struggle with Ethiopia for independence. Eritreans make up the
overwhelming majority of the African migrants in Israel, from 75-85 percent of
the over 60,000 African migrants in Israel.
In Israel, the asylum-seeker
newspaper The Refugee Voice published a special edition included as an insert in
Haaretz newspaper in honor of World Refugee Day. The issue is the first edition
of the paper released since anti-migrant violence began in south Tel Aviv in
recent months, and the newspaper, printed in English, Arabic, Hebrew and
Tigrinya, bears the front cover headline “5 years of neglect, 6 Molotov
cocktails, one burnt apartment, 700 deported refugees, 60,000 people with no
rights, Where do we go from here?”