Israel’s treatment of Eritrean refugees – or ‘infiltrators’ as the authorities term them – is a scandal. Almost none are given asylum, as I have documented previously.
Now evidence has come to light of an even more worrying trend. Eritreans are being sent to Uganda, with the promise that they can remain there, rather than face indefinite imprisonment in Israeli jails.
But en-route they are being seized by the Egyptian authorities while they were in transit and forcibly returned to Eritrea, a process known as ‘refoulement‘.
This process is in addition to the more than 1,000 Eritreans who have been persuaded to return to their country by the Israeli authorities.
The deportation process is due to be heard by the Israeli supreme court on 9th October.
This testimony is from a survivor, who managed to escape from the Eritrean prison he was sent to and is now in Europe.
Shalom, Shalom. I have entered Israel in 2007, and after 6 years of working in Israel, suddenly I got a warning that I should return to my country or I’ll be imprisoned.
Between prison [and leaving] I chose to go to Africa, and they gave me the option to go to Uganda, instead of Eritrea, that is, to stay in prison.
So I said, OK, I’ll go to Uganda.
They brought me all my documents, telling me that I am safe, I can fly to Uganda, without any problems. But it was not like that.
Suddenly in Egypt, in the airport, soldiers caught us, and took us to prison. We’ve remained there 3 days, and I found more people that have entered there before me.
More people came, totally around 25 people, and they have forced us to Eritrea.
We cried, we told that that it’s risking our lives, to fly to Eritrea, we cannot. We have been asylum seekers in Israel, that Israel have sent us to Uganda, not to Eritrea, and that Cairo is only transit.
They didn’t listen. They even told us that they spoke with the Israelis, that we can enter Eritrea and not come back to Israel, even though we don’t have document to enter Uganda.
In short, they have forced us into Eritrea, detained, both hands, in the back.
Of course, in Eritrea, they told us “welcome” and they took us and blindfolded us, and put us in prison.
I have stayed 4 months in prison there.
This isn’t a regular prison, like in Israel, it is underground, 42 degrees (C).
Food, once a day, and they beat us, they have beaten me and did every bad thing.
They chose to send me to an even more dangerous prison, named Miterr.
On the way to Miterr, there was a small town, there were traffic jams.
The lorry stopped there, and then I…
So of these 25 persons I’m the only one who got out of the country, everyone is still in prison.
Prison, as I’ve told you, isn’t normal and, thanks god, I managed to escape.
I’ve found two persons [Eritrean asylum seekers] that came from Israel.
One from Israel trough Eritrea, not sure how, and one through Rwanda and we’ve started the new route, to Libya.
Of course this route is really dangerous, but there’s no choice. We need a place where we can live in peace, so we chose Libya, to go to Libya and then to Europe.
When we arrived to the Libyan border, we were caught by these terrorists, ISIS (Daesh).
One of us, named Yonas, had documents from Israel, his [temporary] visa
they saw it, written in Hebrew, they said here’s a jew came, you’ve been in Israel, you’re a jew, …and such.
They’ve cursed him in Arabic, and put a knife to his throat, one has put a gun to his head,
and they took him to some place, separated, I don’t know what they did to him there.
But the ones that took him, those who took Yonas came back alone I mean, they, of course, killed him there, we’ve heard the noise of the [gun].
They came back alone and took us to their center, they’ve put us in detentions and such, small houses.
And then, after 2 days, an airplane arrive, a military one, I don’t know from where, and started to bomb the place.
I don’t know, each one started running to some direction the door of where we’ve been opened from this noise, when the airplane started bombing the place it opened, and we’ve escaped, I don’t know who, to where one escaped, I escaped towards …
On the way to Tripoli I’ve walked by foot, I’ve been caught by some people I can pay money to take me to Libya, thanks god, out of Libya.
I’ve paid them and, on the way to Europe, I’ve started the way to Europe by the sea
One that was with me, that came from Israel, one was already killed and one was there, he also escaped.
We met in Libya and we started the new way to Europe, by the sea when we started to come by the sea, the boat, a little boat.
This third person, that came from Israel, he died there, the ship sank and he died.
I swam a bit, rescuers came to me and saved me, thanks god, now I’m in Europe.
They gave me asylum here, thanks god, they gave me all the papers and were shocked, when I’ve told them what has happened to me, especially that the government of Israel returns to a place where they don’t know what awaits them; what awaits them after they come back to Africa.
In this occasion, I would like to tell the government of Israel that they wouldn’t do this again because many people die, on the way, in Africa, there are some that have been robbed, their money taken, and killed them in Uganda, in Rwanda, on the way, in the border.
hat is what I hear from people, what I want to tell the refugees, that they shouldn’t move to Africa, it is a dangerous place.