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Photo: AFP
A Isrotel hotel, Eilat
Sudanese refugees given work in Eilat
Happy ending: Dozens of Sudanese refugees find work in Eilat after authorities refuse to take responsibility for them

All's well that ends well.

 

Dozens of Sudanese refugees, who were shifted from one authority to the other last Thursday, have been accommodated in the southern city of Eilat.

 

They have been given work in hotels and their children are scheduled to go to schools in the city.

 

After escaping the Darfur massacre and then the Egyptians, the refugees arrived in Israel where they were initially imprisoned and then transferred to military bases in the South.

 

Last week the Southern Command chief decided that they were not his responsibility and transported them to the Be'er Sheva police station, where they were also rejected.

 

While they were being dragged from place to place, a secret plan to absorb them in hotels in Eilat was being formed.

 

The plan was initiated by David Blum, head of human resources at the Isrotel Holiday Chain. His idea was to combine a humanitarian project with the hotels' need for more workers.

 

Blum suggested that the refugees be employed in the chain's hotels instead of the foreign workers who had been expelled in January.

 

"Instead of the refugees sitting in jail and being a burden on Israel, we will employ them and solve the problem," said Blum.

 

I am happy

One of the refugees, 27-year-old Gatlan Genoa said: "I am happy. We now have a normal life after all the suffering we endured. We dreamed of living in dignity and our dream has come true."

 

Genoa, who came to Israel via Egypt, added: "It was hard. The Egyptians wanted to kill us. I didn't think I would live. When we crossed the border the soldiers didn't do anything to us. We understood then that Israelis were good people. Everything they are doing for us here in Eilat is heart warming."

 

The Sudanese have been taken on as cleaners and dish washers. It is not easy work, but they are happy and content as they had expected worse.

 

"We thought we would be expelled, so the worst is behind us. We are happy at work, we are treated with respect, and that's all we wanted," they said this weekend.

 

The Isrotel chain has committed to employing them under improved conditions: NIS 4,000 a month, lodging, laundry services, transportation to and from work and gifts and pocket money from time to time.

 

The children in the group spend their time at the children's clubs at the hotels where they are taken care of while their parents are at work.

 

The education ministry is checking how the children can be included in schools as their legal status is not yet clear.

 

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