African asylum seekers continue to protest Israeli refugee policies
Asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea say they are treated more like criminals than refugees. (AFP/File)
African asylum seekers in Israel have staged a demonstration to express opposition to Israeli policies against refugees.
Human rights activists also joined the African protesters on Saturday, condemning Israel’s 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 protesters urged Israeli authorities to shut down two detention centers in the Negev Desert. They also called on Tel Aviv to ensure justice and not to treat refugees like criminals.
The asylum seekers, mostly from Eritrea and Sudan, have been protesting for months demanding refugee status.
More than 50,000 migrants live and work in Israel without legal documents.
In December 2013, Tel Aviv began operating a new detention facility for the African refugees in Negev.
Human Right Watch has said that Tel Aviv uses the “threat of prolonged detention” to force the African migrants give up their asylum claims.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said that Israel’s new legislation is a violation of the spirit of the UN 1951 Refugee Convention.