Hundreds of African asylum seekers protest Israel's refugee policies
African asylum seekers, who entered Israel illegally via Egypt, lean at the fence of the Holot detention centre in Israel's southern Negev Desert, on February 17, 2014. (AFP)
About 1,000 African asylum seekers have held a demonstration in the south of the occupied Palestinian territories, protesting the Israeli policy toward refugees.
The protest was held opposite the open detention facility in Holot on Monday, Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported.
The participants called on Tel Aviv to cancel the law that allows them to be held at the facility, release everyone currently held there, and recognize them as refugees.
They shouted slogans such as “No more jail!” “We’re refugees, not infiltrators!” and “Free the prisoners!”
Tens of thousands of migrants from conflict-ridden countries, such as Eritrea and Sudan, have come to Israel in recent years. They have staged mass demonstrations in protest at Israeli authorities’ ignoring their right to refugee status.
Earlier in the month, thousands of undocumented African asylum seekers took to the streets of Tel Aviv in protest against Israel’s policy toward refugees.
The protest was also a response to Israel’s implementation of an anti-infiltration law, which allows Tel Aviv to jail illegal asylum seekers without charge or deport them to their countries where their lives are often in danger.
The Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said Israel’s new legislation is a violation of the spirit of the UN 1951 Refugee Convention.
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