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refugees

  • Rwanda is out, but Israel says it can still deport refugees to — Uganda?

    International pressure led Rwanda to back out of a secret agreement to take in African asylum seekers deported from Israel. Now Israel says it has a nearly identical agreement with a second country, widely known to be Uganda. Kampala denies any such agreement exists. Israeli insisted on Wednesday that despite the collapse of a deal with Rwanda to forcibly deport tens of thousands of asylum seekers, the mass deportations can continue because an agreement is still in place with a “second third country,” widely believed to be Uganda. [tmwinpost] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the cancelation of the Rwanda deportation…

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  • A week of unbearable heartbreak in Israel-Palestine

    From unarmed protesters gunned down in Gaza to hope snatched away from refugees, the human suffering this past week has been overwhelming. This past week has been one of the more heartbreaking recent periods in Israel-Palestine. First, and this seems surreal to write for the umpteenth time, the Israeli army dispatched 100 snipers to open fire into a crowd of unarmed protesters last weekend, shooting over 700 people, killing at least 16. Some were shot in the back while running away. [tmwinpost] Not only have the country’s leadership, its military, and its cheerleaders been completely unapologetic and dispassionate about what…

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  • Israel halts refugee deportation plan, UN to help with resettlement [updated]

    After major public campaigns inside Israel and abroad, pressure on the Rwandan government not to accept refugees deported by Israel, and ultimately effective legal challenges, Israel announces it will scrap its mass deportation plan and work with the UN to resettle African asylum seekers in Western countries. This is a huge victory but there may be more fight ahead. [Important update added at the bottom of this article.] The Israeli government announced Monday that it was abandoning its plan to deport tens of thousands of African asylum seekers to Rwanda, following “mutual understandings” it had reached with the UN Refugee…

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  • Live blog: Global protests against Israeli plans to deport refugees

    Protests are expected outside Rwandan embassies around the world Wednesday as Israel moves forward with its plan to deport tens of thousands of asylum seekers, most of whom fled Eritrea and Sudan. By +972 Magazine Staff [This live blog has ended.] Activists hope Israel's deportation plan can be stopped if Rwanda pulls out of its secret deal with Israel. Israeli officials claim they have a secret agreement with an African country — widely presumed to be Rwanda —according to which that country will accept refugees deported from Israel. Rwandan officials, however, have repeatedly denied the existence of any agreement with Israel and…

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  • Asylum seekers sent to Rwanda warn: 'If you don’t want to die, stay in Israel'

    Israeli officials often imply that African asylum seekers sent to Rwanda will receive legal status and the ability to build a life there. Testimonies collected in a new report paint an entirely different — and much grimmer — picture.  “I saw 400 people [in the Mediterranean]. They drowned […] many children died, I remember. I don’t have the strength to talk about it.” “[In the Sahara] people died and we buried them […] At night it returns to our head. It returns. I don’t want to remember. It wakes me up, what I saw, people dying, no food.” "[In Uganda] they…

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  • Asylum seekers to Israel's president: 'Look us in the eyes'

    Israel plans to begin deporting tens of thousands of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers in the coming months. Hundreds gather outside the President's Residence in Jerusalem, hoping to tell him their stories. By Yael Marom Several hundred asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan demonstrated in front of Israeli President Rivlin’s official residence in Jerusalem Monday night, calling on him to stop planned mass deportations. The asylum seekers, including many women and children, were joined by dozens of Jewish Israelis, among them several Holocaust survivors. [tmwinpost] The demonstrators chanted “we are refugees,” “refugees don’t deport refugees,” and “the deportations are a…

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  • 'I won't fly refugees to their deaths': The El Al pilots resisting deportation

    At least three pilots for Israel's flag carrier publish declarations publicly refusing to take part in the forced deportation of asylum seekers should they be asked to. The Israeli government is giving tens of thousands of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers a stark choice: deportation or indefinite imprisonment. By Yael Marom At least three El Al pilots in recent days published public declarations of their refusal to take part in the deportation of asylum seekers to countries where their lives may be in danger. Captain Yoel Piterbarg, a pilot on Israel's national airline, wrote the following on Facebook (Hebrew): Israel is populated…

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  • Refugees hold 'slave auction' outside Knesset to protest deportation

    Israel plans to begin deporting tens of thousands of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers within weeks. Activists hope the action will raise awareness of what awaits them. By Oren Ziv A group of Eritrean asylum seekers and Israeli refugee advocates staged a mock slave auction outside the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, while a conference on government plans to begin mass deportations of asylum seekers took place inside Wednesday morning. [tmwinpost] Around 10 asylum seekers stood on make-shift auction blocks made of milk crates, while an auctioneer called out, “get your slaves, slaves for half price,” over a megaphone. A single member…

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  • Between determination and despair: Meet the refugees fighting deportation

    The Israeli government has begun the first stages in its planned deportation of African asylum seekers. Refugee activists and advocates are preparing to fight it.  The start of the new year marked the first stages of the Israeli government's plan to deport the roughly 40,000 asylum seekers, most from Eritrea and Sudan, currently living in Israel. The government announced in early January that asylum seekers have three months to leave the country; those who remain in Israel after the three months will face a choice: deportation or prison. [tmwinpost] The Population and Immigration Authority also announced that it was recruiting additional inspectors to carry out…

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  • It is our silence that allows Israel to deport asylum seekers

    Fifty years on, Martin Luther King Jr.’s words resonate more than ever: those who are silent are all part of the problem. It is they who have allowed Israel to neglect south Tel Aviv and to condemn asylum seekers to torture and death. By Sapir Sluzker-Amram On January 15, Americans observed Martin Luther King Day, marking 50 years since the civil rights leader was shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee. The struggle for equal rights in the United States was not won in court but in the streets — by people who had had enough of the status quo and organized to effect change. In 1965, the…

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  • The new 'choice' for asylum seekers: Deportation or prison

    Israel finally plans to close its desert detention facility for African asylum seekers. Refugee advocates worry it could be the start of something even worse. During a midnight vote on Monday, the Knesset passed a bill that will enable the government to detain asylum seekers indefinitely or deport them to an unspecified country in Africa. The law passed by a margin of 71 to 41. [tmwinpost] The consequences of the law will stem not only from what appears in the text of the bill itself, but also what doesn’t: there is nothing in the bill that mentions deportation. Instead, on…

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  • Why is Israel refusing to teach African asylum seekers Hebrew?

    Israel’s ‘Holot’ detention facility for asylum seekers, which is intended to rob them of so much hope that they’ll leave the country, refuses to provide Hebrew lessons as part of its education program for detainees. The result is empty classrooms and a parallel, asylum seeker-run program. By Omri Du-Nour Israel’s desert detention facility for asylum seekers, “Holot,” has been controversial ever since it was first opened four years ago. The primary aim of the facility, as declared by then-Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who initiated its construction, was to drive African asylum seekers to a state of despair, so that they…

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  • 10 must-read articles for World Refugee Day

    A selection of articles and stories about asylum seekers and refugees in Israel on the occasion of World Refugee Day. (Full disclosure, I couldn't include just 10) It has been more than a decade since refugees from Darfur first began making the dangerous journey across the Sinai desert in order to seek asylum in Israel. Since those early years, Israeli society and successive Israeli governments have become increasingly hostile toward the asylum seekers from Sudan, Eritrea and elsewhere who sought safety and dignity in the country. On the occasion of World Refugee Day, here is a selection of articles about…

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