Israel demolishes two UN-funded school buildings in Palestinian refugee camp


Third and fourth grade Palestinian children studying on the rubble of their classrooms in Abu Nuwar, on Feb 4, 2018. (photo: Tamer Bana / WAFA Images)

This is the sixth demolition or confiscation incident in Abu Nuwar school by the Israeli authorities since February 2016.

By Wafa | Feb 4, 2018

“Abu Nuwar is one of the most vulnerable communities in need of humanitarian assistance in the occupied West Bank. The conditions it faces also represent those of many Palestinian communities, where a combination of Israeli policies and practices — including demolitions and restricted access to basic services, such as education — have created a coercive environment that violates the human rights of residents and generates a risk of forcible transfer.”
— Roberto Valent, United Nations acting Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories

United Nations acting Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories, Roberto Valent, said on Sunday that he was deeply concerned by Israel’s destruction of donor-funded classrooms in the Palestinian community of Abu Nuwar, east of Jerusalem.

“I am deeply concerned by the Israeli authorities’ demolition this morning of two donor-funded classrooms (3rd and 4th grade), serving 26 Palestinian school children in the Bedouin and refugee community of Abu Nuwar, located in Area C on the outskirts of Jerusalem,” Valent said in a statement. “The demolition was carried out on grounds of lack of Israeli-issued permits, which are nearly impossible to obtain.”

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Israel is betraying its history by expelling African asylum-seekers

asylum seeker

African migrants demonstrating outside the Rwandan embassy in Herzliya, Israel on Jan 22. (Jack Guez / AFP via Getty Images)

Israel intends to tell Eritrean and Sudanese refugees that they can either accept deportation or go to prison until they change their minds.

By Gershom Gorenberg | The Washington Post | Jan 29, 2018

Netanyahu isn’t bashful. . . . For him and his allies, the world sinned against Jews, and Israel’s obligation stops at giving refuge to Jews.

“I don’t have a visa,” Emanuel Yemani told me.

He spoke in Hebrew on the phone. After his third prison term for political offenses, Yemani had fled from Eritrea, traveling north through Sudan and Egypt. He crossed the Sinai Peninsula — the same ancient route used by Hebrew slaves delivered from Egypt — and entered Israel ten years ago.

It has been enough time for him to learn the language — but not enough to gain a firm legal status. Like nearly 40,000 other refugees from Eritrea and Sudan in Israel, Yemani has lived on a short-term visa that he must renew every couple of months at the Interior Ministry. The last time he did so, he brought a document that had been requested. The ministry official refused to take it, and Yemani recounted the exchange:

“No need,” said the official. “Soon we’ll deport all of you, and you’ll sit under a tree, open your mouth and wait for a banana to fall, like a monkey.”

“But I’m a human being, not a monkey,” Yemani answered.

“Don’t you see yourselves, that you look like monkeys?” the official answered.

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Refugees hold “slave auction” to protest Israeli deportation


Eritrean asylum seekers stage a mock slave auction outside the Knesset to protest Israel’s plans to deport tens of thousands of Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers, Jan 17, 2018. (photo: Oren Ziv /

Israel plans to begin deporting tens of thousands of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers within weeks.

By Oren Ziv | +972 Magazine | Jan 17, 2018

“The asylum seekers that are deported from Israel end up in Libya, end up being sold. This is not just an idea, this is what happens to them actually once they are deported from Israel. Their lives are in danger. We came today to the Knesset to reinforce that message.”
— Sigal Avivi, Israeli refugee rights activist

A group of Eritrean asylum seekers and Israeli refugee advocates staged a mock slave auction outside the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, while a conference on government plans to begin mass deportations of asylum seekers took place inside Wednesday morning.

Around 10 asylum seekers stood on make-shift auction blocks made of milk crates, while an auctioneer called out, “get your slaves, slaves for half price,” over a megaphone. A single member of Knesset, Dov Khenin, came outside to support the asylum seekers, and called Israel’s refugee policy inhumane and unacceptable.

Israeli officials have stated that starting in a matter of weeks, tens of thousands of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers in Israel will face a stark choice: indefinite imprisonment or agree to be sent to Rwanda or Uganda. Asylum seekers who have left Israel for the two countries in recent years have not received any legal status there, and faced dangerous conditions and choices, including heading toward Europe through Libya, where human trafficking and other types of violence is a constant danger.

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Belgium pledges $23m to UNRWA after US cuts aid


UNRWA supports about 5 million Palestinians. (photo: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters)

Belgium is the first to step up after refugee agency pleas for additional donors.

By Al Jazeera News | Jan 18, 2018

“For a lot of Palestinian refugees the UNRWA is the last life buoy. With the help of UNRWA half a million of Palestine children are able to go to school. This prevents them from falling prey to radicalization and extreme violence.”
—Alexander De Croo, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister

Belgium has pledged to donate 19m euro ($23m) to UNRWA, the UN’s aid organization for Palestinian refugees, after the US government announced it would slash its funding to the agency by half.

Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in a statement on Wednesday that Brussels would allocate the funds over three years.

The first annual payment is being disbursed immediately “considering the financial difficulties that UNRWA currently faces,” the statement said.

Washington announced on Tuesday it is withholding $65m out of the $125m aid package earmarked for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, or UNRWA.

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UN seeks donations for refugees after US cuts aid


Palestinians hold signs during a protest against aid cut, outside United Nations’ offices in Gaza City. (photo: Reuters)

UNRWA issues a broad appeal in the wake of the Trump administration’s aid cut.

By Reuters via New York Post | Jan 17, 2018

“At stake is the dignity and human security of millions of Palestine refugees, in need of emergency food assistance and other support in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The reduced contribution also impacts regional security at a time when the Middle East faces multiple risks and threats, notably that of further radicalization.”
— Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA Commissioner-General

The head of the UN agency that provides aid to Palestinian refugees appealed on Wednesday for world donations after the United States withheld about half its planned funding for the organization, a move he said risks instability in the region.

Washington said on Tuesday it would provide $60 million to the UN Relief and Welfare Agency while keeping back a further $65 million for now. The US State Department said UNRWA needed to make unspecified reforms.

Palestinians, already angered by US President Donald Trump’s Dec 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, denounced the decision, which could deepen hardship in the Gaza Strip where UNRWA helps much of its population of 2 million.

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US cuts to refugee agency a “death sentence”


A Palestinian woman rides in a car after collecting aid provided by UNRWA in Gaza City on Wednesday. (photo: Mohammed Abed / AFP / Getty Images)

Trump’s decision to cut aid to Palestinian refugees threatens the well-being of millions.

By Hazem Balousha and Ruth Eglash | The Washington Post | Jan 17, 2018

“We are extremely worried. We support 1 million people with food. . . . [We] just hope we have enough time to persuade them to change their mind and/or to find another donor.”
— Matthias Schmale, UNRWA Gaza Director

The UN Relief and Works Agency, the main body providing aid to millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants across the Middle East, made an urgent appeal for international support Wednesday, one day after the State Department announced that it will slash its annual funding.

“After decades of generous support, dramatic reduction of US funding to @UNRWA results in most critical financial situation in history of Agency,” the agency’s commissioner general, Pierre Krähenbühl, wrote on Twitter. “I call on member states of the United Nations to take a stand & demonstrate to Palestine Refugees that their rights & future matter.”

In a more detailed statement to the media, Krähenbühl said the U.S. contribution of $60 million, less than half of a planned $125 million installment, is “dramatically below past levels” and jeopardizes the “dignity and human security of millions of Palestine refugees, in need of emergency food assistance and other support.”

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Trump limits refugee admissions at all-time low


A man displays a welcome sign near arriving travellers on the first day of the partial reinstatement of the Trump travel ban in Los Angeles on June 29, 2017. (photo: David McNew / Getty Images)

45,000 is lowest number since the caps were put in place in 1980. The previous low was 67,000 requested by Ronald Reagan in 1986.

By Oliver Laughland / The Guardian / Sep 27, 2017

“The U.S. refugee program was created in the aftermath of World War II. At that time, we rightly rejected antisemitic ideology and embraced our role as a beacon of hope and freedom for those in need. Since that time, US refugee protection has never been a partisan issue, nor a political one. Presidents from both parties have long recognized that the U.S. refugee admissions program is essential to global stability and our reputation as a leader on the world stage.”
— U.S. Representatives John Conyers and Zoe Lofgren

Donald Trump intends to cap America’s annual refugee admissions at a historic low, marking the administration’s latest crackdown on immigrants from some of the world’s most vulnerable groups.

A U.S. state department report seen by the Guardian shows that the administration has briefed Congress it will admit just 45,000 refugees in 2018, the lowest number requested by any president in over three decades and less than half the 110,000 cap issued in the last year of the Obama administration.

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