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African migrants in Israel opt for jail over deportation

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At a detention center in Israel’s Negev desert, African migrants facing deportation say they would rather be imprisoned than sent to a country they know nothing about.

“I won’t go there,” Abda Ishmael, a 28-year-old Eritrean, said in excellent Hebrew outside Holot, an open facility housing some 1,200 migrants and set to be shut down on April 1 as part of the government’s expulsion policy.

“Guys who were here and went to Rwanda and Uganda -– we saw what happened to them.”

Israel is working to expel thousands of Eritreans and Sudanese who entered illegally over the years, giving them an ultimatum: leave by April 1 or risk being imprisoned indefinitely.

As the migrants could face danger or imprisonment if returned to their homelands, Israel is offering to relocate them to an unnamed third country, which aid workers say is Rwanda or Uganda.

Those who choose to leave by the end of March are being offered a cash incentive of $3,500.

The plan has drawn criticism from the United Nations’ refugee agency as well as some in Israel, including Holocaust survivors who say the country has a special duty to protect migrants.

Eritreans at Holot say Rwanda and Uganda hold no prospects for them, and they’d rather be imprisoned in Israel than embark on another journey into the unknown.

Ishmael, who reached Israel in 2011 after a terrifying journey from Eritrea, has heard about the fates of others sent to Rwanda or Uganda.

He said they have faced hardships in their new homes and gone on to take dangerous routes to Europe in hope of winning refugee status.

He vowed he would not voluntarily step back into the unknown.

“We know of people who were killed by (the Islamic State group), who were killed on their way to Libya, who starved and died of thirst in the desert,” he said.

“These people were just seeking asylum.”

To Shishay Tewelde Medihin, 24, Rwanda and Uganda are “death countries” and Israel is “risking my life”.

He slammed an aid package Israel is reportedly planning to offer African countries in return for absorbing the migrants.

Tewelde Medihin said he planned to stay “indefinitely” in Saharonim prison, where migrants are expected to be sent if they refuse to leave.

According to interior ministry figures, there are currently some 42,000 African migrants in Israel, half of them children, women or men with families, who are not facing the April deportation deadline.

Israeli officials stress that no one they classify as a refugee or asylum seeker will be deported.

But out of some 15,400 asylum requests filed, 6,600 have been processed and just 11 have received positive answers.

Another 1,000 Sudanese from Darfur have received special status preventing their deportation.

Other men whose requests have been denied could face deportation.

Migrants began entering Israel through what was then a porous Egyptian border in 2007. The border has since been strengthened, all but ending illegal crossings.

Many migrants ended up in southern Tel Aviv, where they found work as dishwashers and cooks. But their growing community angered some Israelis.

Motherland News

PM Abiy reiterates Ethiopia’s decision over latest clampdown.

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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has finally spoken on ongoing anti-corruption and rights abuse clampdown stating that there was not going to be any backing down let alone retreat.

A statement from the Abiy’s office issued in Amharic tasked citizens to rally behind the development as a means of ridding the country of lawlessness and criminal elements.

State-affiliated FBC reported that the statement titled, ‘Let’s Fight (the) Cancer,’ said the government was bent on bringing people behind injustices to book.



The statement said the underlying objective of recent arrests was to get rid of Ethiopia criminals. “… criminals do not care about ethnicity, country, or morality; they only care for themselves.

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“The key to justice is to create a system for innocent citizens to live in freedom and dignity while criminals are held accountable and punished in accordance with the law,” the statement read in part.

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Since early this week, authorities have announced the arrest of over sixty former military and intelligence officials arrested in connection with rights abuse in prisons and gross corruption in the military run business conglomerate, Metals and Engineering Corporation, MetEC.

A former head of MetEC, Kinfe Dagnew; and a former intelligence chiefs, Tekleberhan Woldearegay and Yared Zerihun have all been detained and put before courts in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Head of security at the state monopoly, Ethio Telecom, Gudeta Olana, has also been arrested as has head of the entity and brother of ex-MetEC boss, Essayas Dagnew.

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Motherland News

New Zealand denies refusing refugees with holiday visas entry.

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New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, on Friday, rejected allegations that the country’s government was blocking refugees who wished to travel into the country from Nauru on visitor visas.

Nauru’s president, Baron Waqa, also claimed in an interview with Australian media that he had also personally brokered a deal for New Zealand to accept 80 refugees currently located on the island.



“It’s incorrect to say that there is some kind of agreement for 80 specific individuals to take residence or visit,’’ Ardern told media at the East Asia Summit in Singapore.

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“The request did not ask about whether refugees could visit New Zealand on holiday visas,’’ he added.

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The country assessed all applications for visitor visas on a case-by-case basis. This applies regardless of a person’s country of origin or nationality.

The country is under pressure to transfer the remaining 30 children from the island.

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