July 23, 2011 By

African migrants rally outside Israeli Parliament

ALeqM5jtf8XYgxFWFkE3C-oWyx7KLzWIvQIt’s the fourth day of strike by the African migrants outside Israel’s parliament in Jerusalem with the protestors sticking to the demand of recognition as refugees and opposing the state policy of long-term detention.

Micky Rosenfeld, Israel’s police spokesman told AFP news agency that Wednesday’s demonstration was “calm” with the number of protestors “more than 10, 000” and that police were deployed to keep order. No instances of violence have been reported till now. There had been two protests earlier this week in Tel Aviv by the migrants demanding the right to work and better treatment from the Israeli government. Thousands of migrants mostly from Eritrea and Sudan have landed up in Israel over the years either fleeing conflicts or in search of better life opportunities.

Israel’s parliament sanctioned a law on December 10 permitting authorities to detain migrants without valid visas indefinitely. Since then more than three hundred have been arrested and many more have been summoned for detention according to the UN refugee agency reports. Walpurga Englbrecht, UNHCR’s representative in Israel, said that the new law caused “hardship and suffering” and was “not in line with” a 1951 world treaty on the treatment of refugees. Englbrecht also criticized Israel’s official description of migrants as “infiltrators”, saying that most of them were refugees and deserved international protection.

AFP File photo

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