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Are Eritreans in Israel Economic Migrants or Refugees?


Over 700 Eritreans in Israel attend a meeting hosted by the Eritrean government. Most of these people entered Israel claiming to be 'refugees' and 'asylum seekers' and claimed they would persecuted by the Eritrean government if returned to Eritrea. In reality, however, they are economic migrants who still love their country and government but need to keep echoing a false story to UNHCR officials in order to stay in Israel to make more money to send to their families.

Are Eritreans in Israel Economic Migrants or Refugees?


Although economic migration impacts every developing country, it's not always treated or reported equally. For a number of reasons — mostly political, migration stories in the region have disproportionately centered around Eritrea's migrants in the media, even as its neighbor to the south, Ethiopia, has more people fleeing their state than any country in the continent. Part of the reason is Eritrean migrants, especially those who entered Israel, are referred to as refugees or asylum seekers by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). But are Eritrean migrants in Israel really refugees?

Israel says there are 53,600 African migrants in their country and nearly all of them do not meet the criteria for refugee or asylum status. According to an Israeli official, only 1,800 applications for asylum have been submitted. In other words, only 3.4 percent of migrants have requested that they be recognized as refugees. Even among the 3.4 percent that have requested applications, that doesn't necessarily mean they are being genuine about their claims.

In 2012, Danny Adino Ababa, an Israeli reporter who went undercover as a migrant in Tel Aviv, shed light on a popular false story African migrants like to sell to UNHCR officials and aid agencies in order to stay in Israel:

My cover story has not been finalized yet, but luckily I run into Jeremiah, who’s been in Israel for three years now. “What do I tell those who ask how I got into Israel?” I ask him. “Lie,” he says. “Don’t tell the whole story. The Israelis, and mostly the non-profit groups working with the infiltrators here, like to be lied to.”

“Say you were a soldier, and that if you return to Eritrea you’ll get a death sentence. Keep in mind that you must be consistent with your story. The bottom line is that everyone uses the story I’m telling you here, and this way they fool everybody,” he says. “Almost none of them arrived on foot from Egypt to Israel. None of us crossed any deserts…it’s all nonsense.” 

Not only are these migrants coached into synchronizing their false stories but they are also encouraged to lie about their identities, too. Israel says around 36,000 Eritreans have entered their country since 2006. However, Tesfamariam Tekeste, the Eritrean ambassador to Israel believes at least half (18,000) of those who are claiming they are Eritreans in Israel are Ethiopians or other African migrants masquerading as Eritreans in order to stay in the country.

 "They know the Eritreans automatically receive a six-month visa, so they pretend to be Eritrean," he said.

Ambassador Tekeste links Eritrean migration to Israel with a politically motivated policy that allowed Eritreans a six-month work visa between 2006-2012. Before this policy went into effect, it was unheard of for Eritreans to migrate to Israel.

"Israel is turning itself into a migration destination for Eritrean citizens fleeing from army service or looking for work," Tekeste said. "The fact that you issue six-month visas encourages people to come here."

Not surprisingly, when Israel finally ended its controversial policy in the summer of 2012, migrants from Africa virtually stopped coming overnight. In the first half of 2012, Israeli officials said 9,570 citizens of various African countries entered their country illegally, while in the first six months of 2013, only 34 did – a decrease of over 99 percent. To go from hardly any Eritreans entering Israel between 2000-2005 to thousands from 2006-2012 and back down to almost none in all of 2013, unequivocally shows Israel's six-month work visa was inducing Eritreans to flee.

One problematic issue for those who still insist African migrants in Israel are refugees is why are some of these migrants increasingly seeking to return back to their country of origins? According to Israeli figures, a total of 2,612 migrants willfully left Israel in 2013, of these 1,955 were from Sudan and 461 from Eritrea. Despite claims that these migrants would be arrested, tortured and even killed by UNHCR and the so called Eritrean 'opposition' groups, the Israeli government says organizations who visited Eritrea found they were not arrested.

"Organizations that visited Eritrea to check if the people who returned were safe reported that these individuals had not been arrested." Said Gideon Sa’ar, Israel's Interior Minister.

The minister also adds that some of these Eritrean migrants naively believe that if they pretend to be part of the so called Eritrean opposition groups, that this would improve their chances of staying in Israel. "I think there are people who believe that being opposition leaders would mean a better chance of receiving refugee status for Eritrean migrants."

Last month, a group of 49 hooligans claiming to be Eritrean opposition members thought Israel would accept their bogus asylum claims if they attacked a venue in which the Eritrean ambassador to Israel was giving his briefings on national matters to over 700 Eritrean community members in Kibbutz Kinneret (3 hours north of Tel Aviv).

The ruffians, who arrived in a bus that was sponsored by local aid agencies, were let into the venue by security thinking they were part of the delegation. Carrying chains, iron bars and bricks with them, the mob attacked dozens of innocent Eritreans, including two Israeli officers, before they were apprehended. This brutal act of violence is not the trademark of desperate refugees; it's the sign of cunning economic migrants who are doing anything they can to deceive immigration officials to letting them stay in the country permanently.

To their credit, Israel does not believe Eritreans in their country are genuine refugees. They understand it was their six-month work visa that first enticed them to come Israel and then once their visa expired, they started to claim they were refugees to stay in Israel permanently. In making this point, the former head of the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority, Mí. Yaakov Ganot acknowledged that “in our examinations, I would say that 99.9 percent of them [Eritreans] are here for work. They’re not asylum seekers: they are not at any risk.

Even though nearly all of the Eritreans in Israel are economic migrants, they still deserve to be treated humanely and with dignity. Imprisoning them for long periods of time is cruel and unnecessary. After all, they wouldn't even be in Israel today if Israeli policy makers didn't offer work visas for Eritreans at the behest of the Bush administration, which is at odds with Eritrea.

That being said, UNHCR and European countries should stop rewarding Eritrean economic migrants with bogus refugees and asylum statuses. When they provide Eritrean migrants with these statuses this further induces others to leave their country since they know if they leave for work in the West, they are almost guaranteed full immunity as refugees and asylum seekers. The refugee status diminishes many of the risk factors that economic migrants would typically face, thus making more potential migrants to leave.

But what is UNHCR and European country's excuse for providing Eritean economic migrants with ridiculous refugee statuses that even people from conflict zones such as the DRC, Mali, Ethiopia (Ogaden), CAR and others have a hard time receiving? After all, there is no war in Eritrea, and Asmara is arguably one of the safest cities in the world. Yet Eritreans economic migrants are being accepted as refugees by UNHCR officials and several European states over real refugees from other countries. The only rational answer is its politically motivated at the behest of United States, which is at odds with Eritrea.

In conclusion, nearly all the Eritreans who leave their country, especially those in Israel, are not refugees or asylum seekers. They are economic migrants seeking higher wages. We can say this with certainty because these migrants openly send money to Eritrea and attend Eritrean government meetings in the Diaspora, all while UNHCR officials have their hand on the Bible professing these same migrants are refugees that would be persecuted if returned Eritrea. In the end, it is UNHCR's nearly automatic refugee statuses for Eritreans, like that of Israeli's six-month work visa policy, that is inducing many of these economic migrants to flee in the first place. Therefore, it is long overdue that UNHCR stop rewarding Eritrean economic migrants with bogus refugee labels just so it can score political points.


Over 700 Eritreans attend a meeting hosted by Eritrea's ambassador to Israel, Tesfamariam Tekeste 

Over 700 Eritreans attend a meeting hosted by Eritrea's ambassador to Israel, Tesfamariam Tekeste


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Are Eritreans in Israel Economic Migrants or Refugees? Reviewed by Admin on 1:10 PM Rating: 5

29 comments:

  1. Shame on you. Hope you are proud to call yourself Eritrean with our brothers and sisters out there suffering in Israel.

    You have no empathy toward their situation and feel the need to judge them.

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  2. Only 3.4% of the African migrants in Israel have filed for applications for refugee/asylum statuses. That means over 96% of them have not. It would be inaccurate to call the majority of the African migrants in Israel as refugees when they themselves have not filed applications requesting such statuses.

    Hope that helps, peace.



    .

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  3. Very nice article and indeed it shows the complicity of the USA involving in displacing people and human traffcing; remeber Mr Obama, The President Of the Good US of America, a man with a hope, (the hope he promised by the way, he extinguished it himslef on his second day as US Presidnet, so no hope there from a black prsident of Kenyan decent) any way the NGOs' and UNHCR are perpetuating false story inorder to make money and destabilize a country at the behast of the neo-colonialist, lords of war and misery traders.
    It is clear that a number of those who calim as a refugees are Ethiopians of Tigray decent and other nationals who want to use the Name Eritrea as a gate away; the blame is squerly on the UNHCR's conduct and in cahoot with the likes of Selam, Meron, Elsa and Amanuel who are involved in human trafficing and formenting mayhem in Israel (actually Israle should bar these individual from visiting Israel as they are the main organisers of the trouble which occured in Israle and other Eritrean embassies around the globe.
    I hope the citizens of the west wake up and watch and observe what their leaders are doing and saying to detabilze a peacefull nation in the name of democracy and transparency but this is a front veil to advance their evil agenda to divide and rule and loot the peoples' property.
    The west have been preaching us Democracy and rule of law but go back to hsitory, CIA is involvedd in assasination our brilliant leaders while they cajoul and hood wink the despots the likes of Melles, Mobutu, Aparthaide in SA and this are the results of the west's handy work.
    I applaude Israeli's government in taking decisive action at the same time Israel should do its best to accomadate the so called refugees that is, to recieve them with open arm and not demonise them, but empower them to go back to their country, as you have confirmed it, in Eritrea they are FREE no one was presecuted hence the government of Eritrea is not in incacirating its citizens.
    Ps. Admin or Madote thanks for bringing back comments section so that I have a plat form to let out my frastration and most of express my view!!!thanks.
    Viva Eritrea
    Ethernal glorry to our Martyres!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I used the words African migrants because Israeli officials provided information on Africans collectively. I can't specifically say what percentage of Eritreans actually requested asylum applications since that info wasn't provided. Based on the other estimates, it's certainly very low, perhaps even lower than the 3.4% being provided for all African migrants.

    In regards to Eritrea's fast growing economy, it's true, the economy is growing at an exceptional rate. But at the same, you have to realize Eritrea is a developing country. Even if Eritrea was to maintain this impressive growth every year, it would still take two to three decades of 8-10% GDP growth to reach the level where Israel is today.

    Keep in mind, economic migration is not limited to Eritrea or to the developing world. It happens in every country, including in the United States. Economic migration is just that: finding work somewhere else. You can never stop it; you can only limit it.

    I think you are using emotion to defend your position, which I don't think it's the right way to go. These Eritreans in Israel are not refugees or asylum seekers. If they were refugees, how hard would it be for them to register as such? We know exactly why they went to Israel and what made them go to Israel. Moreover, since Israel stopped providing its six-month work visa for Eritreans, economic migrants from Eritrea have virtually stopped migrating to Israel. In 2013 alone, only a handful of Eritreans went to Israel; a far cry from the thousands that went a few years before.

    I think It's wrong to call economic migrants as refugees or asylum seekers because what typically happens is it induces those who haven't left back to make similar dangerous trips for Europe since they know if they leave Eritrea, they will be provided with refugee status upon landing of the country of their destinations. The refugee status diminishes many of the risk factors that an economic migrant would typically face, thus making other potential migrants more likely to leave the country at a future date. This vicious cycle will continue until UNHCR stops rewarding Eritrean economic migrants with asylum and refugee statuses.

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  5. Additionally, according to UN figures, 85 percent of infiltrators to Israel are young men, which is a distinct characteristic of economic migrants, as opposed to refugees, who typically flee for their lives together with their families.

    ReplyDelete
  6. madot you are rally lossers. mothefuckers! you guys want us to go back eritrea. how on earth do yu tink that we are economic migrants. we came here b/c of the evil dictator and his moron cliques. i wih i had the power for one day.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Having a dictator or not isn't a valid reason for being granted refugee or asylum papers, according to UNHCR. Eritrea does not accept forced deportations of economic migrants. It only takes back economic migrants that want to come back to Eritrea on their own free will.

    I just ran your IP, you're not even in Israel, how does this even concern you?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Having a dictator or not isn't a valid reason for being granted refugee or asylum papers, according to UNHCR. Eritrea does not accept forced deportations of economic migrants. It only takes back economic migrants that want to come back to Eritrea on their own free will.

    I just ran your IP, you're not even in Israel, how does this even concern you?..

    ReplyDelete
  9. Having a dictator or not isn't a valid reason for being granted refugee or asylum papers, according to UNHCR. Eritrea does not accept forced deportations of economic migrants. It only takes back economic migrants that want to come back to Eritrea on their own free will.

    I just ran your IP, you're not even in Israel, how does this even concern you?...

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  10. Berhane Dingus,
    Eritreans are they not Africans?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Haile,
    Chill brother stop shwoing us your mental capacity as we know it, it is Zero! how do I know? read what you have written!!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Very rude and ignorant.
    If you had the power for one day, you would destroy Eritrea.
    No more chance!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. That's absolutely right Madote...youth as young as 16 or 17...it's obvious these youngster they've nothing to do with politics...specially in our country ( Eritrea) we don't have the so called child soldiers as is common in parts of Africa...therefore it's absurd to accept these youngsters as political refugees....unless you've your own motives and agendas....

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  14. nobody is forcing you to go back to your country ( Eritrea, if you're an Eritrean) and trust, me that power you're dreaming of, will never come to you, you'll never get it....stay where you're quietly and eat what they provide you....

    ReplyDelete
  15. Dear Madote it would be better not even to answer to people who is not of your "level", i mean to those who use ressah melhas, like the one who call him self "haile" just ignore them, they don't deserve your attention and explanation.

    ReplyDelete
  16. FOR NEXT GENERATIONJanuary 27, 2014 at 3:43 AM

    This is the truth which courses pain for the people out side of Eritrea and also people who wan to leave Eritrea in the future. But it is True an it is not new!!!!!!!.

    Above all Eritrea and its image & economy is suffering form it. it means also NEXT GENERATION.
    it needs to be stopped even it individuals can get a residence permit in any country as asylum seekers.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Neseka ke Berhane n empathy ilka intay gerka?

    ReplyDelete
  18. it's true MadoteEritrea, better not answer those who don't have a minimum of ethics nor respect..they don't deserve you give them explanation

    ReplyDelete
  19. it's true MadoteEritrea, better not answer those who don't have a minimum of ethics nor respect..they don't deserve you give them explanation.

    ReplyDelete
  20. At least want to say thanks for responding to me.

    Do you agree that there is an inherent conflict of interest for the Interior Ministry being responsible for the classification of refugees?

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/11/11/does-a-border-fence-work-check-out-the-dramatic-change-after-israel-put-one-up/

    The amount of refugees has only dropped because “In January, Israel finished building the main portion of the 16-foot high fence, which is made of razor wire and reinforced by military surveillance, including motion sensors and cameras, aimed at keeping out both illegal African migrants and terrorists operating in the Sinai”. Has nothing to do with the six-month work visas.

    As a result the refugees are increasingly desperate even heading out even by boat trying to have a better life. Just a reminder over 360 Eritreans died in Lampedusa who must also have been “economic migrants”?

    http://newint.org/features/web-exclusive/2013/10/18/eritrea-migrants-lampedusa-europe/

    Economic migrants do not risk life and death.

    A reminder of the current state in Eritrea which is causing these incidents:

    “The government severely restricted freedom of expression and freedom of religion. No opposition parties, independent journalism or civil society organizations, or unregistered faith groups were allowed. The authorities used arbitrary arrests, detentions and torture to stifle opposition, holding thousands of political prisoners in dire conditions, many in secret detention. Military conscription was compulsory and deserters, draft evaders and their families were harassed, imprisoned and ill-treated. A “shoot to kill” policy against anyone attempting to flee across the border remained in place”

    I can understand the Eritreans over 40 years old having a mental block and emotionally defending our government policies with false facts but shame on you if your emotions cloud the truth.

    The more I read the article the more of a disgrace it is. Please state your name for history purposes as I would love to read this article to your children in 10 years’ time.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Let me first appreciate for allowing different opinions to be expressed freely, that is something missing in both camps (oppostion/supporters). With that said, i totally disgree with your assumptions about the Eritrean refuguees in Israel. 700 of 30k to 40K Eritreans are not representatives for all , and we know why these people attending the meeting, you need to be in good term with the embassy to get your passport renewed. Let me tell you this, even if those people agreed to return home, the government wouldn´t allow them to return becuase they will be real treat to the regim. 30K to 40K youth who knows the meaning of freedom won´t accept to server regim for ever. As the ambassador clearly put it Eritrea was willing to take them back when they were few but not anymore, that tells you alot.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Please read this part of the article and may understand something from the article.
    "To their credit, Israel does not believe Eritreans in their country are genuine refugees. They understand it was their six-month work visa that first enticed them to come Israel and then once their visa expired, they started to claim they were refugees to stay in Israel permanently. In making this point, the former head of the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority, Mí. Yaakov Ganot acknowledged that “in our examinations, I would say that 99.9 percent of them [Eritreans] are here for work. They’re not asylum seekers: they are not at any risk.”

    ReplyDelete
  23. fuck off u mo** fucker wish this happens t u n c if u can make it off bastard
    liar

    ReplyDelete
  24. Economic migrants do not risk life and death

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  25. This article is written by the ambassador himself to drag the innocent youth to the slavery of the limitless national service.
    And Asmara is the sefiest city to foriegner(tourist) but to its citizens it ie hell.
    Please lets be realistic mister dictator. Those who attended the meeting are those who are ilitrates. They know nothiing except Eritrean tv. They almost are unable to read and write even to thier mother language.

    ReplyDelete
  26. http://www.ehrea.org/ConversationSolomon.pdf

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  27. Mind your language, what is fffffffffffff?
    Very rude !! you'd better visit your favourt webs, otherwise,you would get high blood pressure and die before your time.
    Please madote delete any inappropriate.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Please delete inappropriate jokes.

    ReplyDelete

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