Racism in Israel: People Call Us Slaves
Nearly a month ago, the Israeli government launched the first in its series of mass deportations of African migrants. Since then, 200 South Sudanese have been airlifted to Juba, their refugee status having been rescinded by a Jerusalem Administrative Court decision on June 7. Recently, the deportation of immigrants from the Ivory Coast began.
About 62,000 migrants, mainly from Sudan and Eritrea, have come through the porous desert border with Egypt since 2006. Whilst humanitarian agencies claim their right to be recognized as refugees and to be considered for asylum, the Israeli government disputes the argument saying the vast majority are job seekers. The visas given to these migrants doesn’t allow them to work, making their lives very difficult.
In the Southern part of Tel-Aviv, Lewinsky Park has been turned into an open-air refugee camp with hundreds of residents.
Ibrahim explains, “I left Darfur because of the war; my village was assaulted, I didn’t have any other choice. I came to Israel seeking peace. I don’t know why they deny us working visas, so we spend the whole day waiting for somebody to offer us a job. Here the conditions are worse than in refugee camps in Chad where my family is.”
“People call us ‘Eved’ (slaves),” says Abdul-Aziz, “On public transportation, they don’t want to sit next to us; anyway, mostly we are not allowed to get on. So we try to save money to buy a bike. But even though, it’s not safe for us as cars try intentionally to knock us down sometimes.”
For most of them, returning home is not an option. Abdallah lost his dad and two brothers, his village was destroyed, the rest of his family lives in a refugee camp in Chad.
Bashir wants to go back, he cannot endure this situation any longer. (x)
(Photos by Eloise Bollack)