Posted by: Lister | September 24, 2007

Israel accepts 498 Darfur refugees

From the BBC:

Israel is to allow 498 Darfur refugees, who entered the country illegally from Egypt, to stay in the country although their legal status remains unclear.

[…] Officials said those from other parts of Africa already in the country would be expelled, along with new arrivals.

The number of Africans entering Israel from Egypt has declined in recent months after Egypt agreed to accept refugees sent back across the border.

There are 100,000 refugees from Sudan in Egypt. They don’t like it there and many feel prejudiced against. Some have been shot [by Egyptian border guards] trying to get into Israel — including one case witnessed by Israeli soldiers on the border.

They’ve heard that Israel is better and that they can get better wages in Israel. Al -Ahram:

While the problem is not new it is getting “worse” according to the Israelis. Khamis, one of the first Sudanese to cross the border from Egypt to Israel maintains that he does not regret the move. “In Israel Sudanese can earn $4 per hour. In Egypt such a wage is unheard of. Moreover, medical care and educational opportunities are far better in Israel than in Egypt.”

[…] According to the latest statistics, 24.5 per cent of the estimated 4,000 Sudanese in Israel are from the predominantly Muslim war-torn western province of Darfur. The bulk of Sudanese in Israel, an estimated 61 per cent, are from southern Sudan.

Excessively harsh socio-economic conditions and racist attitudes in Egypt seem to be the main reason why Sudanese refugees want to relocate to Israel. Of the Sudanese refugees now resident in Israel 71 per cent report verbal and physical abuse as the main reason for their fleeing Egypt. Some 86 per cent had refugee status with the UNHCR in Egypt, though those crossing the border spent an average of six months in detention upon arrival in Israel. Others are subject to indefinite detention.

[…] There are an estimated 400,000 Sudanese refugees in Kenya, 400,000 in Chad and 100,000 in Egypt.

Israel was under pressure after it decided to limit the number of refugees it would accept from Sudan. It’s good that Israel has agreed to accept nearly 500.

Of course, we in Britain have an even more embarrassing problem: Iraqi interpreters and other Iraqis who helped British forces don’t seem to have an easy time escaping to Britain. Once here, their application is no different to that of any other asylum seeker. Gordon said he was going to look into it.

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