A recent video posted on line by the Islamic State shows the shooting and beheading of what were thought to be 30 Ethiopian Christians. However, three of the victims have been identified as Eritrean refugees who had earlier been seeking refugee status in Israel. Mesi Fashiya, who is a translator for The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, an Israel-based NGO that advocates for the approximately 46,000 refugees in Israel, identified three of the victims. Fashiya told the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz that one of the victims was her cousin, whom she recognized by photos posted by IS on Facebook before the victims were killed.
Her cousin had been deported from Israel to Uganda or Rwanda but was not accepted and went on to Sudan and from there to Libya. The Israeli government will help refugees to leave voluntarily, by providing airline tickets and a grant that can be up to $3,500 per person. While this may seem a good deal it is meant to ensure that less people go through the process of seeking asylum. Hagar Shechter, who is head of public relations for Assaf an Israeli organization that provides legal assistance to refugees said: “During the past few years we see that government policy is becoming worse towards asylum seekers.” Refugees fear arbitrary detention as a means of pressuring the refugees to leave. She noted that the Israeli government has granted only 0.17 percent of refugee status requests. Assaf reports:
47,000 refugees and asylum seekers live in Israel as of October 2014, of which 92 percent are from Eritrea or Sudan. They were forced to leave their homes and their countries to seek asylum in Israel due to persecution, civil wars, genocide and other horrors
Last year, Hagar notes the situation worsened when the Israeli government built Camp Holot located in the middle of the Negev government to house refugees: “Last year, the Israeli government built a detention camp to lock them up.About 2,000 people are imprisoned in this camp, placed in the middle of the desert, far from any public transport,” Fashiya noted that her cousin had been in the camp. The experience convinced him he should forget about seeking refugee status and he signed papers to leave without telling his relative. Fashiya said her cousin was hoping to reach Europe by boat. That too has become a very risky endeavor, with hundreds of migrants drowning before they reach Italy or the eastern islands of Greece. Many countries can always find funds to fight wars and terrorism but when it comes to humanitarian disasters such as this funds are limited and the will to at least help alleviate the problem is lacking. The situation is not helped by the backlash against immigrants in much of Europe.