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Africans Living In Israel Mark World Refugee Day

posted 21 Jun 2013, 09:49 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 21 Jun 2013, 09:49 ]

Israelis and human rights organizations mark world's refugee day in Tel Aviv in an event that is dedicated to 1900 African refugees in Israeli prisons.

 TEL AVIVISRAEL (JUNE 20, 2013) (REUTERS) -  Israelis, human rights organizations and African refugees gathered in Tel Aviv on Thursday (June 20), in a cultural musical atmosphere to mark the World Refugee day.

The event hosted by Israeli soccer commentator Modi Bar-On and Sudanese refugee Bahar adam, was dedicated to the refugees and asylum seekers detained in Israeli prisons.

Rawid Demos, an Eritrean refugee, said that he had escaped the dictatorial regime and the endless military service in his country and came to Israel seeking asylum.

"There is a dictatorial regime in Eritrea and there is an endless military service that uses other way to control the citizens, so we escaped from this situation in Eritreaand we are refugees, and 75 percent of those people who escaped from the bad situation or the bad military service in Eritrea are recognized as refugees in the world but still not in Israel, so it is important for us to remember this day as refugees," he said.

Activism and educational booths were on site at the event to express solidarity and spread awareness about the Sudanese and Eritrean refugees.

This year's event was in honor of the 1,900 refugees and asylum seekers who are in prison under the prevention of the infiltration law, alongside 55,000 others living in Israel lacking their basic rights, according to Refugee Rights co-ordinator, Sarah Robinson.

"Today we're here for World Refugee day, this year we're dedicating it to the 1900 refugees and asylum seekers who are in prison under the prevention of the infiltration law. They are in prison for at least three years with no trial, we have about 55,000 other refugees and asylum seekers living in Israel without access to the most basic right, so we're here together, Israelis and refugees to get to know one each other and to call in the Israeli government to release the refugees from prison and to offer the rights that are needed by refugees according to international law," Robinson said.

Israel has come under heavy criticism after it launched last year what it called the emergency plan, which aimed to expatriate all the estimated 60,000 African migrants, whose growing numbers are seen by many Israelis as a law and order issue and even a threat to the long-term viability of the Jewish state.

Mousa Yousef, a Sudanese refugee, joined the event with many others in celebration of the World Refugee day.

"We are all of them, we are all of us we are going together; Sudanese and Eritreans and other people around the world to share that we are there and like to have bands, and to let people know who we are and where we come from," said Yousef.

The event included various performances, from Sudanese and Eritrean live bands, to and Eritrean D.J., as well as speeches by refugees, fringe art, and an Eritrean coffee ceremony.

Illegal migration, and the pool of cheap labor it provides, is a common headache for developed economies.

But for some in Israel, built by immigrants and refugees, internment and deportation are bad solutions that may damage the international image of the country needlessly.