[QODLink]
Middle East
Israel allows entry to three African migrants
Seventeen others turned away as prime minister warns that country is still "determined to stop the flood" of migrants.
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2012 08:47
About 60,000 migrants have entered unlawfully in the past few years through porous Egyptian border [Reuters]

Israel ended a stalemate with about 20 African migrants stranded along its border with Egypt for more than a week, allowing two women and a child to enter but turning the rest of the group away.

A statement from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that although Israel granted entry to two women and a child, the country was "determined to stop the flood" of migrants.

A group of around 20 Eritreans had been stuck outside a nearly-completed border fence, where the Israeli military was providing them with food and water.

Israel allowed the three to enter the country, but sent the rest to Egypt, where officials said they were arrested for allegedly crossing a border illegally.

A government official who asked not to be named said the three were let in on humanitarian grounds. Israeli media said one of the women had been pregnant and had lost her baby.

Rights groups had appealed to Israel's Supreme Court to decide the fate of the group that was stuck at the border, but the agreement to have them return to Egypt was reached before the court made a decision.

About 60,000 African migrants have entered unlawfully in the past few years through the porous Egyptian border and have alarmed Israel, which says they are mostly job-seekers who threaten the demographics in the Jewish state of 7.8 million.

Building fence

To curb the influx, Israel has been building a fence along the 260km-long frontier with Egypt's Sinai desert and it is due to be completed by the end of 2012.

"We are determined to stop the flow of the infiltrators," Netanyahu said. "We have built a fence to achieve that goal ... and we will continue our efforts to return the infiltrators to their countries of origin."

Humanitarian organisations in Israel said the migrants should be considered for asylum, and many Israelis have been troubled that their country, founded by war refugees and immigrants, should be packing off foreigners en masse.

Most of the African migrants entering Israel are from Sudan and Eritrea.

Under international law, Israel cannot return people to those countries because of their poor human rights records.

Israel's hardened policies have drawn criticism from rights groups who say the country is shirking its international responsibilities and sending migrants back to countries where they could face persecution.

"It's a cynical arrangement that endangers the welfare and security of the migrants,'' said Ran Cohen of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, which helps migrants.

In a similar standoff last month, Israel permitted four Eritreans stranded by the border to enter after four days.

427

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.