Monday, September 30, 2013

At least 13 Africans drown in migrant boat off Sicily

Saudi-Yemen Barrier Blocks Ethiopian Migrants. VOA

Ethiopia migrant workers seeking jobs in Saudi Arabia are being turned back on March 16, 2012, in Haradh, a town in western Yemen near the site where the Saudi government is erecting a fence along the border. (Reuters)
Ethiopia migrant workers seeking jobs in Saudi Arabia are being turned back on March 16, 2012, in Haradh, a town in western Yemen near the site where the Saudi government is erecting a fence along the border. (Reuters)
David Arnold
A popular path for Ethiopians to work as illegal household help in Saudi Arabia has been blocked by construction of a 75 kilometer-long three meter-high concrete-filled pipeline, that is supposed to eventually span the entire 1,800 kilometer Saudi-Yemen border.

The Saudi-Yemen Barrier is designed to discourage illegal entry by Yemenis and other foreigners from sneaking across the border for work, to stop smugglers bringing in weapons for extremists and to end the shipment of qat – a plant whose leaves are a mild but illegal stimulant – to eager Saudi consumers.

Early construction has already cut off the route taken by thousands of poor Ethiopians seeking household jobs in Saudi Arabia’s wealthy middle class.

According to International Office for Migration (IOM) officials in Sana’a, 25,000 Ethiopians hoping for jobs as maids, cooks, nannies, gardeners and drivers in Saudi cities have been stopped at the barrier and now live in scattered temporary encampments not far from the fence.

IOM operates an emergency center there that provides water, food and medical help daily to about 3,500 of the most needy, said Marco Chimenton of the IOM office in Sana’a. The IOM has also repatriated thousands of Ethiopians from Yemen but has faced problems funding the flights in recent years.

Foreigners do Saudi menial labor 

Saudi officials estimate that a million jobs in the Kingdom are filled by foreign workers.  Most are filling low-paying positions. “Anyone doing any sort of menial labor is basically a foreigner,” said Adam Coogle of Human Rights Watch in Amman.

Traditionally, the largest percentage of domestic workers – about 60,000 - in Saudi Arabia come from the Philippines, said Dr. Ahmed F. Al Fahaid, theMinistry of Labor’s deputy for international affairs. In protest of Saudi working conditions, the Republic of the Philippines last year banned their domestic workers from further entry to the Kingdom until a bi-lateral agreement was reached. Ethiopians began competing in earnest for those Saudi jobs.

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office has since negotiated a Saudi agreement to, among other things, guarantee $400 monthly wages and the freedom to change jobs. They signed their new agreement with the Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in May.

Ethiopians bound for the homes in the Kingdom

Work conditions in Saudi Arabia for migrant domestic laborers - and particularly for housemaids - have long been criticized by Human Rights Watch and other watchdog agencies that cite unsafe housing, nonpayment of workers, rape and other physical abuse.

Al Fahaid said the Ministry of Labor completed a set of regulations in July that for the first time addresses conditions and protections for the Kingdom’s 1 million foreign domestic workers.

Recent local Saudi media accounts have focused on Ethiopian housemaids as perpetrators of violence. In July, a Jeddah police spokesman said many accusations against Ethiopians have “turned out to be inconsequential” but anxious Saudi mothers have engaged in an anti-Ethiopian housemaid campaign on Twitter.

About 200 Ethiopians who ran away from their places of employment were being treated for psychological problems in a Riyadh center for housemaids, according to the Saudi Gazette.

“We had some problems, especially with the Ethiopians, and decided to temporarily stop and review the case,” said Al Fahaid.  “We found out through a consultant … that most problems started long before the workers came here – especially domestic workers.”

Foreign workers who try to change employers are in violation of Saudi law and subject to deportation because they violate kafala – the Saudi custom of sponsorship that denies a foreign worker the right to change jobs without the employers consent. Some labor advocates have compared the system to slavery. Bahrain has outlawed it.

40,000 visa applications suspended

With all the bad publicity, Ethiopia recently suspended applications for an estimated 40,000 Ethiopians who want to work in the Kingdom.

“The decision was made on the basis of widespread reports that the Saudi authorities were complaining about domestic workers turning against their employers,” said Getachew Reda, spokesman for Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

He said the decision to suspend new visas is not related to Riyadh’s intentions to deport thousands of other Ethiopians who had entered the Kingdom illegally. Getachew said his government is focused on better work conditions for those who enter Saudi Arabia legally.

For more than a year Ethiopia has been negotiating with Saudi labor officials for an agreement similar to the Philippine agreement. Getachew said his government wants to change the system for Ethiopians who work there.

“Private employers consider these employees their property,” Getachew said, “and they take away their passports and make sure they have no means to challenge any unacceptable conditions. That kind of abuse happens very much.”

Recruiters are unregulated middlemen

Migrant workers from Ethiopian and other countries are often victims of a poorly functioning and sometimes corrupt system of recruiters, say observers of the Saudi foreign worker system. Recruiters are the crucial intermediaries between the housemaid and her employer, but neither government controls the recruiting or training process.  Recently city officials in Addis Ababa met with overseas job recruiters and announced the creation of seven centers to train potential foreign workers in basic home management skills.

The Philippines screens Saudi and Filipino recruiters of their domestic workers. Ethiopia’s Getachew says recruiting agencies are part of the problem in Ethiopia. The recruiting system has received some criticism from Ethiopian labor advocates.

“We’re cracking down on the so-called agencies which are concocting all kinds of stories about all kinds of opportunities in Saudi Arabia or elsewhere in the Middle East,” said Getachew.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Israel welcomes only Jewish refugees - World Bulletin

15:16, 10 September 2013 Tuesday
Israel welcomes only Jewish refugees

Israel announced a new campaign to rid the country of non-Jewish asylum seekers who fled atrocities in Sudan and Eritrea, Jarusalem Post reports 

The Israeli Government announced a campaign to rid the country of non-Jewish asylum seekers who fled atrocities in Sudan and Eritrea, allegedly bartering them to Uganda for arms and agricultural technology, according to Jerusalem Post report.
The government is turning its back on non- Jews seeking refuge from persecution, report says.
According to the report, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, “I am proud that as prime minister, beginning in my first term, I upheld the Zionist and Jewish imperative of bringing to Israel our brothers and sisters from Ethiopia. I see this as a moral obligation,” but earlier Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced the government’s plans to pressure tens of thousands of migrants from Sudan and Eritrea to voluntarily leave the country.
The government will continue to confine migrants in internment camps in the Negev desert and impose financial constraints on all Sudanese and Eritrean migrants to embitter their lives until they go.
There are approximately 55,000 African asylum seekers in Israel. Nearly all of them are from Sudan or Eritrea. Thousands of these individuals were kidnapped and held for ransom in the Sinai desert and subjected to torture and rape before they reached Israel. Since June 2012, all African asylum seekers that continued to trickle into Israel, including the trafficking, torture, and rape victims, have been automatically incarcerated for a minimum of three years without even a trial.
"Israel must end its discrimination against non- Jewish asylum seekers, uphold its legal obligations, and stop returning refugees to dangerous situations without allowing them to have their legal claim for asylum heard and evaluated" report stated.

Monday, September 9, 2013

101 Immigrants Detained at Bulgarian-Turkish Border, 70 Syrians

101 Immigrants Detained at Bulgarian-Turkish Border, 70 Syrians: 101 Immigrants Detained at Bulgarian-Turkish Border, 70 Syrians The Bulgarian-Turkish "green border," file photo
A total of 101 immigrants have been detected at the Bulgarian-Turkish "green border" over the last 24 hours, the press center of Bulgarian Interior Ministry announced Sunday.
"Green border" refers to crossings without a checkpoint.
The detainees included 70 Syrian nationals.
The others came from Iraq, Palestine and Algeria (6 each), Ghana (5), Mali (3) Pakistan (2) and Eritrea, Afghanistan and Togo (1 each).
The groups consisted of 56 men, 17 women and 28 children.
Adults have been temporary detained at the Border Directorates of the Bulgarian towns of Svilengrad and Elhovo, while mothers and the children are accommodated in special shelter facilities.
- See more at:,+70+Syrians#sthash.Ufd4lUuQ.dpuf

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Uganda denies deal with Israel re African immigrants -Jewish Ledger

( Israel has struck a deal with Uganda to accept thousands of illegal African migrants in the upcoming months, Israeli media reported. Uganda, however, denied the deal. On Wednesday, August 28, Israeli Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced a deal with an African country, later revealed to be Uganda, that will temporary accept Israel’s African migrants as part of a process of deportation. As part of the migrants’ deportation, Israel would pay for the cost of their transport and provide a financial package that would take into consideration money and property they accumulated while in Israel. A spokesperson for the Israeli Justice Ministry clarified the reported deal by saying, “at this time, the State of Israel is not forcibly deporting migrants from Sudan and Eritrea. Their return to their countries is purely voluntary.”
According to the Israeli government, more than 55,000 African migrants, roughly 90 percent from Eritrea and Sudan, currently reside in Israel, mainly in south Tel Aviv. Their presence has caused a backlash from local residents, who claim the migrants are behind rising levels of crime. A major protest broke out in 2012 over the migrants’ presence. Israel — which been erecting a 229-kilometer security fence along the Egyptian border to stem the tide of illegal immigration as well as the infiltration of terrorists — has had difficulty finding a home for the migrants. According to international law, Israel cannot deport them back to their country of origin if they face danger there, which is the case in Sudan and Eritrea.