‘Eritreans who wish to return from Israel have every right to do so’ – President Afwerki
In an interview, Eritrea’s president has expressed his displeasure with Israel’s plan to deport tens of thousands of African migrants, saying they deserve far more than the $3,500 they were offered to leave.
President Isaias Afwerki’s interview on a government website Wednesday said the migrants from his country and Sudan paid a “high price” to human traffickers to reach Israel and deserve more like $50,000.
“They need fair compensation to start a new life in their home country,” Afwerki said in the interview with local reporters. He said all those who wish to return home “have every right to do so,” and that Eritrea has offered to register all of its roughly 20,000 migrants but Israeli authorities had refused.
Many Eritreans leaving the east African nation claim they fled a restrictive regime under Afwerki, where men are often forced into a military service with slavery-like conditions. They say they cannot return.
In the interview, Afwerki claimed instead that the Eritrean migrants were enticed abroad to organize an armed opposition but that the “subversive schemes” failed and the migrants now have become a burden.
Israel’s deportation plan has sparked protests by liberal Israelis who say the country should never turn away those in need. They note that of 15,000 African refugee status requests, only 11 have been approved.
On April 1, Israel plans to start expelling the African migrants, some of whom have been in the country for years. About 60,000 migrants crossed Israel’s previously porous desert border with Egypt before a barrier was completed in 2012 along the 130-mile (220-kilometer) frontier.
Since then about 20,000 migrants have left either voluntarily, via a U.N. program, or with the encouragement of the Israeli government, which offers each about $3,500 and a plane ticket to leave. Others have been locked up in a massive detention center in the remote southern desert.
Israel’s Cabinet recently voted to begin shipping out the remaining 40,000 migrants, even against their will, to an unnamed third African country with which it has reached a secret agreement.
Israeli authorities said the migrants would be deported to Rwanda and Uganda, Afwerki said.
“We are told they will be deported to any country that can accept them,” he said. “These are human beings, not livestock. No country can claim legal responsibility to receive our citizens.”
THE PRESIDENT ACTUALLY SAID …
The migration programs especially those that targeted Eritrea was designed to advance this [regime change] strategy. The story is long. It also encompassed hiring of quislings to facilitate these programs.
Let us take the case of Eritrean nationals in Israel for instance. The original plan was to entice Eritrean youth for migration abroad in order to organize an armed opposition for “violent regime change”. The estimation was that this should be feasible since most of the youth have undergone military training in the National Service. There were other factors and attributes that were taken into account too. These were some of the reasons why youth migration was encouraged in an organized manner.
What does a youth need to cross the border to Sudan? Who organizes it for them? One cannot venture into the unknown without facilitators and guides. Once they arrive in Sudan, they are approached by UN agencies and they have to fill forms. When they do that, they have to demonize the government so they can be accepted by these agencies. The script is… “endless national service and slave labor; gross violation of human rights” etc.
There are networks that perform the necessary “paperwork” for “these refugees” in the Sudan; that organize the illicit trips to Libya or Egypt. Police and security officials are involved in this network. They say there are around 40,000 migrants in Israel today; out of which around 20 thousand are Eritreans.
When the original subversive schemes failed to materialize and the migrants became a burden there, the issue now is the manner of their expulsion.
As I emphasized earlier, those who wish to return from Israel have every right to do so. This was communicated to the authorities in Israel. Naturally, we requested access to register the 20,000 or so Eritrean migrants. But this was not allowed. If, as are told now, they are “asylum seekers… who have escaped human rights violations’ that needs to be verified too.
Furthermore, these youth who have been victimized need to make up for lost opportunities and support to start a new life in their country. They need to receive vocational training; to acquire employable skills which could be done relatively easily in Israel in view of the advanced economy and technological advantage there.
Again, these proposals were rejected. They simply wanted to deport them by giving each one of them 3,500 US dollars. But how much has each of these migrants paid to reach the country? What are the tribulations each has faced at the hands of human traffickers to enter Israeli – not accessible by any means – from the Sudan and through Egypt?
The high price they must have paid cannot be equivalent to 3,500 dollars. They need fair compensation to start a new life in their home country. Our estimation at the time was each one deserves a compensation of 50,000 US dollars.
The discussions with the authorities in Israel reached a deadlock. Later, they said the Eritrean migrants will be deported to Rwanda and Uganda. Now they are dubbed as “infiltrators”; not “refugees”. We are told they will be deported to any country that can accept them. These are human beings; not livestock. No country can claim legal responsibility to receive our nationals. This cannot be acceptable by any standards.
To continue reading the remaining section of President Isaias’ interview, click HERE>>>