Eritrean migrants protest Negev detention center 370.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
The Israeli government’s incompetence in the treatment of African asylum-seekers
is criminal negligence, the head of the Knesset committee on the foreign workers
issue said Sunday.
“The incompetence of government policy towards
refugees is criminally negligent,” MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) said in a Facebook
post after returning from a tour the committee paid to the Saharonim detention
facility in the south, adding that “we didn’t invite the Sudanese and the
Eritreans to come here but they are our guests.”
Rozin wrote that at
Saharonim, home to around 1,500 migrants, there are “entire families, with
children who grow up there and know nothing other than prison, and are able to
get together with their families only once a week when their father is allowed
to visit from the men’s section of the facility.”
“Prison is a serious
punishment, especially when their only sin was entering Israel, and when their
asylum request hasn’t been checked yet,” Rozin said, and criticized the Israel
Prison Service for not allowing members of the press to enter the facility to
take part in the tour with the MKs.
During the visit MKs met with
representatives of the IPS and the Population, Immigration, and Borders
Authority. MK Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) said Israel is a state of law and
order, and called on the Attorney General to approve the “willful return”
programs for African migrants, including those at detention facilities, locked
up under the “antiinfiltration law”.
“Infiltrators who returned to their
home countries told PIBA authorities by phone that they are satisfied with their
A representative of PIBA, Inbal Mashash, told the MKs that
most of the 1,400 prisoners at the facility have submitted asylum requests, and
that so far 17 have had their requests rejected, while the rest are still
waiting for an answer.
She also told them that around 1,000 of the
residents of the facility are from Eritrea and the rest from Sudan.
parliamentarians also met the commander of the facility, Col. Albert
Abuhatzeira, who told them the premises can hold up to 3,000 people, and are now
only at half capacity. He also told them that the IPS is providing the detained
children with classes, games and extracurricular activities.
also access to dentists, family doctors and social workers at the
There are currently an estimated 60,000 African migrants in