Falashmura wait in Gondar
Photo: Rabbi Menachem Waldman
Thousands of Falashmura still await permits to immigrate to Israel, after the state promised last year to allow 3,000 immigrants into the Jewish state by September 2009.
Knesset Member Shlomo Molla (Kadima) visited a transition camp in Gondar together with MKs Avraham Michaeli (Shas) and Arieh Eldad (National Union), where the three, together with their delegation, bore witness to the harsh living conditions the Falashmura must bear while they await visas.
MKs visit transit camp (Photo: Rabbi Menachem Waldman)
"I couldn't but be shocked at the terrible living conditions, indigence, and hunger I saw there," Molla said. He called on the Jewish Agency and the government to "solve the problem of the Falashmura aliyah once and for all".
The Gondar camp is home to 8,700 people awaiting immigration papers, some of them for a number of years. The MKs said they suffer from poor health as well as a lack of food, water, and clothing.
Two representatives of the Interior Ministry have been stationed in Gondar, and the MKs say they have been notified they will be returning to Israel shortly. The MKs also say the representatives told them that the Jewish Agency took away an archive of immigration critical for deciding who is eligible for a visa.
"We call on the Jewish Agency and the Jewish charities to adopt a policy of Jewish, moral, and Zionist statehood and take responsibility for the camp from the various organizations," the MKs said in a report of their findings.
Assistance has come from the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry, which established workshops that produce clothing and metal works at the camp.
The MKs met with leaders of the community, who voiced their grievances. "They are anxiously waiting for the state of Israel to recognize them as family, and want to immigrate to Israel in order to fulfill their Zionist dream," the report says.
On Monday, the Knesset's State Control and the Committee for Immigration, Absorption, and Diaspora Affairs plan to meet in order to discuss the Falashmura. Ethiopian organizations in Israel plan to hold demonstrations as part of the battle against the delay in visas.