Israel Begins Informing Asylum Seekers of Their Deportation

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Asylum seekers returning to the Holot detention center, southern Israel, January 2015.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik

Israel’s immigration authority on Thursday started officially informing asylum seekers at the Holot detention facility that they will be deported from Israel to an unnamed African country.

A refugee and migrant hotline has received reports on seven Eritrean citizens being held in Holot whose asylum requests were rejected and received a deportation notice, which did not specify where they would be going.

Officials from the Population, Immigration and Border Authority refused to answer questions about where the African migrants would be deported to. They told asylum seekers they have 30 days to leave Israel or else be moved from Holot to Saharonim Prison.

“After working hard in the last several months, we have found a country that will accept you,” read the letter, according to an Eritrean refugee who translated it.

“The state will approve work and residency permits for you," the letter added. "Over the last 10 years, this country [that the asylum seekers will be sent to] has been in a situation of positive development. Ten thousand citizens who had been migrants have returned. The country has created job opportunities for other citizens of Africa. The country’s economy has improved substantially over the past decade. It is considered one of the largest countries in Africa, and it depends on exports to the United States and Europe. Because of political improvements, the country has a strong government, good education, health and transportation systems, and other developments.”

The letter also stated that the Interior Ministry would provide $3,500 to every Sudanese or Eritrean who wants to leave, describing it as a “good grant.” Representatives of the immigration authority are ready to help those who wish to return – from obtaining laissez–passers to the flight, according to the letter.

“The money will be given [to you] at the airport in a secure manner,” the letter read. “When you arrive at the third country, people will receive you at the airport and give you information about life in the country and other important information.” The letter stated that refugees would stay in a hotel on their first night in the new country and receive a visa.

“The Sudanese and Eritreans who left with the help of the Israeli government to the third country said they are living a good life, studying English and have a good work,” said the notice. “According to them, some have opened businesses and are living well.”

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