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African refugees in Beersheba (Archive) Photo: Herzl Yosef
African refugees in Beersheba (Archive) Photo: Herzl Yosef
 
 

African refugees dumped in Beersheba

IDF transports 50 African refugees who infiltrated Israel to southern town, leaves them near City Hall; municipality refuses to treat refugees, who are eventually housed in town of Rahat on the expense of local students. Meanwhile, some 37 Africans attempting to cross into Israel arrested in Sinai Peninsula by Egyptian authorities

Anat Bereshkovsky
Latest Update: 07.06.07, 19:46 / Israel News

About 50 African refugees left at the entrance to the Beersheba City Hall on Friday will be housed over the weekend at the Peace Tent in the town of Rahat, on the expense of students who have been trying to help them since the afternoon.

 

The students also managed to find work for seven of the refugees outside the city.

  

Infiltrators
60 Africans infiltrate Israel from Egypt overnight / Anat Bereshkovsky
Infiltrators captured by IDF on Wednesday night to be handed over to Migration Authority. Senior military official says only small number of infiltrators are from Sudan
Full story

The refugees, who crossed the border from Egypt to Israel in the past 24 hours and were transported by the IDF to Beersheba, were dumped there near City Hall, with no one to take care of them.

 

The Beersheba Municipality said it was not willing to treat the infiltrators. "We don't intend to house more people than the 200 we are already hosting. Tomorrow they will be transferred to Jerusalem."
 
Students who heard about the situation arrived at the place and began attending to the people. The students also contacted a donor who approached them after reading a Ynet report about their work with the refugees and offered to help.
 

One of the students said that "the refugees are in shock, one of them told us that his wife and children remained in Egypt."

 
The students expressed their anger over the fact that they were forced to finance the refugees' housing themselves.
 
The problem is expected to be renewed on Sunday, when 200 additional refugees will be evacuated from hotels housing them for the weekend.

  

Meanwhile, some 37 Africans, mostly refugees from Darfur, were arrested Friday in the Sinai Peninsula by Egyptian authorities who said they were attempting to cross illegally into Israel.

 

The African migrants, four from Congo, five from Eritrea, and 24 Sudanese refugees mostly from the war-torn western Darfur region, were arrested at the Mubarak Asslam Bridge located on the eastern side of the Sinai, an Egyptian security official said.

 

The official said another three Sudanese, and woman from Ivory Coast, were separately arrested Friday near the Israeli border.

 

Speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized talk to the media, the official said extra checkpoints had been installed in the Sinai to prevent the flow of illegal migrants from approaching the Egyptian-Israeli borders.

 

Repeatedly left stranded

Dozens of Sudanese refugees and other African migrants have been detained over the past few days for trying to cross into Israel from various points along Sinai peninsula.

 

Many Sudanese find life difficult in Egypt, a country that struggles to provide jobs and social services for a growing refugee population. Egyptian riot police violently cleared a Sudanese refugee encampment in central Cairo in 2005, killing nearly 30 people.

 

Israel says that about 2,800 people, including 1,160 Sudanese, have crossed illegally from Egypt through its porous Sinai desert border with Israel in recent years. Over the last month and-a-half, the number of Africans who crossed over from Egypt has reached 1,000.

 

Israel still hasn't set up an authority to deal with the problem, and the infiltrators are repeatedly left stranded and with no place to go, after local municipalities refuse to handle them.

 

According to a recent agreement signed between Israel and Egypt, all infiltrators except for Sudanese refugees will be retuned to Egypt, while Israel will give temporary shelter to the Darfur refugees until a solution is found in cooperation with international bodies.

 

AP contributed to the report

 

First Published: 07.06.07, 15:00

 

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