Eritrean refugees in Israel

Street protest in Israel against desperate plight of Eritrean asylum-seekers

Not being treated according to Exodus 22:21.

Desperate plight of Eritrean Christian refugees gets even worse: but you can help them
“We have already begun to see a great deal of fear among the most vulnerable members of our community.” This was a recent message to Barnabas Fund from an Eritrean Christian agency in Israel, describing the effect of a new law implemented last month by the Israeli government.

Will you help needy Eritrean Christian women, seriously affected by the new law?
Will you help needy Eritrean Christian women, seriously affected by the new law?

Section 4 of the Law for Preventing Infiltrators and Ensuring their Departure (known as the “Deposit Law”) deducts 20% from the earnings of every African asylum-seeker, on top of normal taxes. It also requires their employers to make a monthly payment equivalent to 16% of the person’s salary. Effective from 1 May, this law will seriously impact the 40,000 Eritreans – mainly Christians – who fled to Israel hoping to find freedom and security in a country where they could worship the Lord without fear.

The funds – from employee and employer – will be set aside by the Israeli government and only released to the individual asylum-seeker when he or she agrees to leave the country permanently. Of course, none will return to the brutal communist regime of Eritrea which mercilessly hounds Christians of certain denominations, imprisoning them for years in atrocious conditions just for meeting together to pray. That leaves only the “voluntary” return programme to Uganda or Rwanda; Eritreans who have tried this have often ended up in the hands of human traffickers and some have been killed by Islamic State.

As a direct result of this new law, thousands of vulnerable asylum-seekers – already struggling to survive – will be plunged further into poverty. Employers will be loath to hire them because of the 16% levy, and those who manage to retain their jobs will lose a further 20% of their meagre income.
Generosity from Israeli citizens, but it is not enough

Members of the Israeli public generously donate food and other items to the Eritrean Christian agency for distribution to the neediest Eritreans – mainly mothers with small children. But, as the effects of the new law begin to bite, these donations will not be sufficient. The agency desperately needs funds to buy more items for distribution, such as pasta, rice, cooking oil, baby formula milk, and nappies.

Many Israelis are deeply unhappy with the stance of their government regarding the Eritrean asylum-seekers and a number of Israeli non-government organisations are assisting them, as well as engaging with the government to try to persuade them to change their policies.
Further harassment of men at Holot

Street protest in Israel against desperate plight of Eritrean asylum-seekers
Street protest in Israel against desperate plight of Eritrean asylum-seekers

Since Barnabas Fund and various Israeli media highlighted the atrocious conditions of the Holot Detention Centre earlier this year, additional restrictions have been placed on the three thousand Eritrean men held there. Their mobile phones have been blocked so they cannot contact family and friends. And the many who were studying can no longer access the educational materials they used to receive via their mobile wifi hubs.

Published by Julian Kennedy

Bus pass carrying 67 year old disciple of Jesus Christ. Member and deacon of Covenant Protestant Reformed Church, Ballymena. Married to Marianna. Son Joseph at home. Two daughters Marie Isabel and Kirsty in England. Enjoys keeping fit (including indoor rowing), watching track and field, nature and nature documentries. Got hip replacement in April 2014 and major surgery to re-align right knee in November 2017. Blessed in the Covenant love of God in Christ. Retired Emergency Medicine Specialty Doctor.

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