African Migrants in Israel Ask Welfare Officers to Take Their Children

Seventh repatriation flight this summer takes off from Israel to South Sudan, with 70 adults, 30 children on board.

A number of African migrants, most of them from South Sudan, have recently asked Tel Aviv welfare workers to take their children from them because they are having difficulty feeding them.

The parents making these requests cannot work in Israel legally say they are afraid to even leave their homes for fear of arrest and deportation.

Another plane, the seventh repatriation flight this summer, took off on Wednesday from Israel to South Sudan, with 70 adults and 30 children on board. Around 1,000 migrants have been flown back to South Sudan so far.

These families "can't provide food for their children," said a welfare worker. "These families have no money because they don't work, and savings, if they even have any, go primarily to pay rent.

"The parents simply ask us to take responsibility for their children, to put them in dormitory facilities or some other framework," the welfare worker said, adding, "They want their children to be safe, at least for now."

Another source noted that the migrants aren't starving "in the malnutrition sense, like in Somalia, but have no food security. Some of the migrants don't know if they'll be eating tomorrow," the source said.

"A situation in which a parent would even consider giving up his children so they can eat is horrible and extreme," said Yigal Shtayim, one of the leaders of the Levinsky Soup group that organizes hot meals for migrants at the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station. "That's what the government, helped by the public's silence, has done to some of the refugees."

This week D., a South Sudanese migrant, received food from Levinsky Soup activists. They brought it to his home because he was afraid that if he came to the bus station he would be caught by Immigration Authority inspectors.

"You [Israelis] don't understand that South Sudan is a place full of death," said D. "I don't want to go back there now."