NGO cites serious shortcoming in treatment of detained migrants by Israel

At several detention centers, many migrants did not even know they had access to healthcare.

The Holot Detention Facility in the Negev. (photo credit: REUTERS)
The Holot Detention Facility in the Negev.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A report released by a pro-migrant NGO on Monday painted a picture of overcrowding, poor healthcare, insufficient access to legal services and a shortage of translators for the 5,000 African migrants held in the country’s four detention centers.
The report, published by the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, is based on 72 interviews with Eritrean migrants detained primarily at the Holot and Saharonim facilities in the South, but also at the Givon and Yahalom detention centers near Ramle. The NGO also referenced official reports and freedom of information requests.
There were 10 migrants per room at Saharonim even though the official plans were only for five per room, according to the report. The amount of space per person is half of the Prisons Service standards and about one-quarter called for by the standards of prisons in most Western countries.
At other detention centers, the number of migrants per room varied, but across the board, the amount of space per person was below standard.
At Saharonim and Givon, according to the report, migrants said the facilities’ health services either ignored or failed to respond to their requests for treatment. Holot lacks medical professionals and has only social welfare professionals. At other detention centers, many migrants did not even know they had access to healthcare, it said.
Protesting the lack of access to legal services, the NGO said the state offered no assistance unless those requesting assistance were minors or victims of the slave trade. It described itself as the only outside service to be given clearance to represent migrants but said it had only succeeded in covering 20 percent of them. The detention centers at times reportedly hampered its ability to even meet with migrants.
Only three out of 26 migrants said they had a translator present to assist them with medical exams. Migrants complained that the shortage was so drastic that at times they were reduced to awkwardly trying to explain intimate and private medical details in a confusing mix of languages, sometimes with the assistance of nonmedical professionals who were able to do some makeshift translating.
Further, the report slammed poor hygiene, food and clothing for the migrants.