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The Perilous Status of Eritrean Refugees
|Awate - Gedab News|
|By Gedab News - Oct 20, 2008|
About 80 Eritrean refugees have been languishing in the Ramle prison in the outskirts of Tel Aviv, Israel. They are kept in four cells numbered 11 to 14, twenty people to a cell.
Approximately the same number of other African refugees are jailed in Ramle along with the Eritreans.
The refugees who arrived in Israel in the beginning of 2008 were arrested last summer in and around Tel Aviv when they ventured outside their restricted camps in search of work.
A judge has sentenced them to pay a fine of 1000 Shekels (apx. $266) each for their violation of a law which prevents them from venturing outside the camp.
A refugee reached by telephone said, “though we are sentenced, we were not released and we don’t know the reason for delaying our release.”
The Road To Israel
The path to Israel often follows the Eritrea-Sudan-Egypt-Israel route. Several refugees were shot and killed by Egyptian patrols while crossing the border to Israel.
Eritrean youth are escapting forced labor and indefinite military service imposed by the Eritrean regime on all Eritreans eighteen to fifty years old. Some Eritreans have been forced to serve in the military for over 13 years.
In the last eight years alone, tens of thousand of Eritreans have crossed the Sahara Desert on foot, trekking to Europe through Libya, Malta and other countries.
Last summer, Egypt forcefully returned hundreds of refugees back to Eritrea where their fate is still unknown.
Ethiopia and Sudan
To accomodate the large influx of military escapees and refugees, Ethiopia has been expanding its refugee camp in the Tigray region. The new camp is already housing around seven-thousand refugees.
Shimelba, the largest refugee camp, houses over twenty thousand Eritrean refugees. The United States recently announced its decision to accept eight-thousand Eritrean refugees from Shimelba to resettle in the USA.
Almost five hundred soldiers desert the Eritrean army every month and escape to the refugee camps in Ethiopia and Sudan.
In Sudan, there are over half a million refugees who fled Eritrea during the Ethiopian occupation era and have not returned to Eritrea following its independence.
Sweden, Switzerland and Romania have decided to accept around seven-hundred Eritreans refugees for resettlement. The refugees have been in detention in Libyan prisons.
|Last Updated ( Oct 21, 2008 )|
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