Eritrean migrants resettled from Israel to Sweden

Dozens relocate in recent weeks following deal brokered between Sweden, UN High Commission for Refugees in Israel.

Eritrean migrants living in Tel Aviv 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Eritrean migrants living in Tel Aviv 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Dozens of Eritrean migrants have relocated to Sweden in recent weeks following an agreement brokered between the government of Sweden and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Israel, it emerged on Tuesday.
The resettlement - which Israeli NGOs said included 54 Eritrean women – was part of the “ongoing process of willful deportation to Sweden,” according to the Interior Ministry, which reported the deal on Tuesday. They added that the move was also done in collaboration with the United Nations and that each Eritrean migrant received a payment of $3,500.
According to ministry figures, a total of 2,612 migrants willfully left Israel in 2013, of these 1,955 were from Sudan and 461 from Eritrea. The ministry said that in 2012, the number was a total of 461, out of a total of around 54,000 African migrants that are in Israel, according to government figures. The NGO ASSAF, which works with African asylum seekers in Israel, said that they took a role in the process as well, and that the Israeli government was not part of the initiative.
Michal Pinchuk, the Executive Director of ASSAF said Tuesday that a Swedish government delegation was recently in Israel and met with them and other NGOs and African migrants, including women who she said were trafficked to Israel and had gone through torture in Sinai. Pinchuk said these women were not given assistance by Israel, and that her organization helped find a group of these women to sign up for the resettlement. She said a number of the women left Israel for Sweden from the Saharonim prison in Israel's south, where they were being held. She added that Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar gave the approval for them to leave for Sweden.
“As an Israeli I am embarrassed that my country avoided providing support to the victims of torture. The Swedish Representatives heard of the difficult situation the victims were under in Israel and turned to the UNHCR in order to absorb a number who were given refugee status immediately,” Pinchuk said Tuesday.
The Interior Ministry said that their decision to publish the relocation deal on Tuesday was not related to the ongoing protests by African migrants in Israel.