African migrants cautiously optimistic about U.N.-Israel agreement

We pray it will work out, but what we’re told today could change tomorrow.

April 2, 2018 19:48
2 minute read.
African migrants cautiously optimistic about U.N.-Israel agreement

A boy takes part in a protest against the Israeli government's plan to deport African migrants, in Tel Aviv, Israel March 24, 2018.. (photo credit: REUTERS/CORINNA KERN)


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African migrants living in Tel Aviv say they are cautiously optimistic about an agreement Israel struck with the United Nations Refugee Agency to allow them to be resettled in Western countries, while others will be allowed to remain in Israel.

“It’s a step in the right direction, but I’m not so trusting,” said Alena, a Sudanese asylum-seeker.

“The thought of getting a work visa, getting a real job and being able to move out of the partitioned room, which I share with two other women, is a good thought,” she told The Jerusalem Post.

“I just hope it happens – it’s good news.”

Alena said she’d like to stay in Israel if she can and build her life up properly. “I hope five years will turn into a lifetime. I have made a lot of friends and have a community here, it would be hard to move and have to rebuild my life.”
Israel says to send 16,000 African migrants to Western countries, April 2, 2018 (Reuters)

However, she added that if given the choice to leave Israel and go to the US or Europe, she might do so.

“They’re good countries and there are Sudanese people there. I have a cousin there so it could work, but I would like to stay here,” Alena said. “It was a hard and scary journey to get here and there is a lot of good things in Israel.”

Asked if she was scared things would change and the agreement would be revoked, Alena said that as much as she wants to be, she can’t be “too positive” about it. “What we’re told today, could easily change tomorrow to something completely different. Today they may tell us we can stay and tomorrow they could tell us to go.”

Eritrean migrant Nethaniel said that although he is “happy and excited” about the agreement, he wants some sort of assurance from the government that they will not go back on their word. “I want to know in writing that they won’t arrest us or send us to Rwanda or Uganda just to be deported to the evils we escaped.”

“The fact that the UN had to intervene and this type of deal could not be reached by human beings in government who have the same flesh and blood as I do, is sad,” he said.

He is adamant to remain in Israel even if offered a better life in Western country that offers to absorb him and other migrants alike.

“I have a girlfriend here, I’ve lived here for 12 years. There is reason for me to stay, to want to provide for her and one day for a family. I don’t want to leave,” he said.

Nethaniel, who also lives in a run-down partitioned room, expressed excitement at the fact that he would be able to earn a proper salary and open a bank account.

“With a bank account, I can rent a real place to live. Where I stay now is dirty and full of bugs.”

He added that he’s heard those who want to stay will have to meet specific conditions.

“I don’t know what they are, but I hope they won’t make our lives more difficult then they are now.”

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