'Refugees will get jobs if they leave Tel Aviv'

NGO also claims that mass arrest plans have been nixed.

african refugees 224.88 (photo credit: )
african refugees 224.88
(photo credit: )
The Prime Minister's Office has postponed plans to arrest and deport hundreds of African asylum-seekers living near Tel Aviv's central bus station in favor of granting them work permits and encouraging them to leave Tel Aviv, an NGO that helps the refugees told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. According to earlier reports, the refugees were supposed to be transported to Ketziot Prison near the Sinai border. "Our sources say that in the coming days, Sudanese and Eritrean refugees are going to be given work permits with geographical limitations, to encourage them to leave Tel Aviv and work in light agricultural work in the north and south of the country," Shlomit Bornstein, of the African Refugee Development Center, told the Post. She added that the permits would be dependent on the number of available jobs in agriculture. "From what I heard, there are enough jobs for the refugees," she said. "We don't expect any mass arrests of Sudanese and Eritreans in the coming days." Her account was confirmed by Oscar Olivier, who fled the Republic of Congo 13 years ago and has been living and working in Israel for the past nine years. Olivier works closely with Brit Olam, a social welfare NGO. "The threat of mass arrests has been lifted for the time being," Olivier said, citing sources at Brit Olam. Despite the reported change in direction in dealing with the refugees, however, the Prime Minister's Office said on Tuesday that "there was no change in our policy." The source was unable to confirm the claim that plans to transport the refugees to the South had been dropped, adding: "The implementation of this policy is the responsibility of the Public Security Ministry." The ministry, however, said the matter did not fall under its jurisdiction. And a denial by Immigration Police of receiving an order to transport the refugees to the South added to the confusion. "Nobody asked us to transport them," an immigration police spokeswoman told the Post. Asked who was supposed to take the Africans to Ketziot, officials at the Prime Minister's Office were unable to respond.