Some 65% of Ethiopian Children in Israel Live in Poverty, Report Finds

The school scores and incarceration rates tell a harsh story.

Revital Blumenfeld
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Revital Blumenfeld

Sixty-five percent of the children of Ethiopian immigrants are defined as poor, according to a new report on the status of Israel's Ethiopian community.

The figure, from a report published by the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute in Jerusalem, compares to a poverty rate of 15 percent among the children of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, and 23 percent among children in the veteran population.

Children of Ethiopian immigrants sitting outside the Petah Tikva education department, September 5, 2011. Credit: Alon Ron

After dramatic improvements among Ethiopian immigrants in the 1990s, the community's progress has suffered a setback in the past decade, the report says. Poverty runs high in the community, and Ethiopian immigrants are still poorer and suffer a higher unemployment rate than the overall Jewish-Israeli population.

The crime rate among Ethiopian immigrants has risen sharply in the past decade and 10 percent of minor prisoners are of Ethiopian origin. The rate of adult delinquency among those who have immigrated from Ethiopia has also increased, according to the report, which marks two decades since Operation Solomon - the airlift that brought more than 14,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel in 1991.

Only 55 percent of immigrants from Ethiopia are employed, compared to 72.5 percent of the overall Jewish population, the report says.

In contrast, the number of women from Ethiopia who have joined the workforce has risen dramatically and is similar to that of women in the general Jewish population, it says.

The immigrants' housing conditions still lag behind those of the general Jewish community. At least two people live in every room among Ethiopian immigrants, compared to one in the general Jewish population.

Students of Ethiopian origin have achieved lower grades in matriculation exams this past decade. However, the number of these students who have passed their exams and enrolled in universities has increased.