The Deportation / The Orwellian Refugee Camp

The primary reason that no one in the government has been dealing with the refugees from Africa over the last two weeks is that no one wants to or intends to do so. The solution provided by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert two weeks ago is to return them to Egypt, the country from which they crossed into Israel - in other words, deportation. Only a small number of refugees from Darfur will be allowed to stay in Israel once the refugees stop streaming into the country.

It's no coincidence that deportation is the only solution on the table. The purpose was to show the refugees - especially those still in Egypt - that they don't have the option of immigrating to Israel, and that those who do arrive will be sent back.

To a certain extent, this has worked. A deportation hysteria has settled over the refugees here, and it is reasonable to assume that it will spread to Egypt. But thus far, there has been no deportation, and the wellspring of refugees has yet to dry up.

Meanwhile, the Public Security Ministry announced yesterday a "plan for the establishment of a temporary guest facility for the Sudanese refugees," also described as "camping." The camping site will be located on a not-so-pastoral parking lot, next to Ketziot Prison. It will be used as a sorting facility, where the refugees will wait until it is decided that they can be deported. Even George Orwell would have a hard time describing a refugee camp any better.

For several weeks, the state tried to act as though the refugees were not its problem. But as more refugees arrived, there was a greater need for state intervention and the public outcry grew even more. Now it will be possible to send them to Ketziot and forget about them until they are deported.