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African Migrants Forcibly Removed From Encampment Near Israeli-Egyptian Border

Around 1,000 Sudanese and Eritrean migrants left Holot detention center on Friday and are appealing to the UN to intervene.

by Liz Fields
Jun 29 2014, 6:40pm

Photo via AP

Hundreds of African migrants were forcibly removed from a makeshift encampment near the Israeli-Egyptian border today where they were protesting their treatment at an Israeli detention camp.

Police used teargas to disperse around 1,000 Sudanese and Eritrean migrants who had set up sheet tents at the camp after marching out of Israel's Holot detention center on Friday.

Police placed the migrants on buses to Saharonim prison facility where hearings will take place to determine whether they will be held there for violating the rules at Holot, according to local media.

The migrants claimed many had been in limbo for years and while their asylum applications remain unprocessed and were appealing to the UN to intervene and resettle them elsewhere, the Associated Press reported.

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"We cannot continue living in a cage in the desert, with no release date and no judicial review," the protesters said in a statement. "We have no more tolerance to stay in prison, and we call on the international community to take care of us.”

After the migrants left Holot, the Israeli army reportedly stopped them 300 meters from the Egypt border, which is a closed militarized zone, and prevented them from crossing, according to local media.

Video shows scores of asylum seekers, some with sleeping bags, sitting under the heat of the Negev desert sun. Some shouted "peace in Israel," according to social media reports.

Hundreds of African migrants staying in the Holot detention center in Israel’s Negev Desert marched out of the centre towards the Egyptian border on June 27.

The protest is the latest in a series of demonstrations against the unfair treatment of the more than 50,000 African migrants that have entered Israel via Egypt in recent years.

The influx of asylum seekers has kicked up Israel's border protection measures, including the erection of a 220-kilometer (130-mile) fence between Israel and Egypt.

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Israel has also offered people at the border money to return to their homes in some cases and detained others. Israel claims many of the migrants are seeking employment rather than fleeing from persecution.

Around 2,300 migrants are currently detained at Holot, an open detention facility, which means that detainees are free to enter and leave, but must check in three times a day at designated times.

They are also not able to hold jobs, and are sent to the nearby prison if they fail to comply with the requirements.