African asylum seekers in Israel continue their strike

Jerusalem, Jan 8: Asylum seekers in Israel said they will continue their strike until a further notice, as their struggle for refugee rights enters its third day, community representatives said Tuesday at a press conference in Tel Aviv.

Tens of thousands of asylum seekers have been on strike since Sunday. They took to the streets of Tel Aviv and marched to the US and European embassies in Israel in an appeal for international pressure to cancel the Israeli anti-infiltration law, which allows detaining them indefinitely, Xinhua reported.

Moussa Abdoulaye, an asylum seeker from Darfur, said they plan a mass march to Jerusalem Wednesday in order to present the government with their demand to check their asylum claims. Israel refuses to review the application of asylum seekers for refugee status.

“We call on the Israeli government to open a direct dialogue with us,” said Sumaya Nedeg, an asylum seeker from Sudan. “We have a voice. Please sit down with us and talk about a solution that will work for everyone,” Nedeg said.

Many African migrants work at low-paid jobs in hotels, restaurants and construction. “The working hands of the asylum seekers are important for the Israeli market but we have nothing to lose,” Nedeg said. “Israel makes us choose between the dangers of returning home or to be jailed here.”

Most of the 53,000 asylum seekers fled unrest in Eritrea or Sudan. They entered Israel without permits through the Sinai desert, and are considered as a social burden.

IANS