UN warns Israel deporting Eritreans en masse violates international law

2023-09-05 23:45:14
UN warns Israel deporting Eritreans en masse violates international law

The United Nations has urged Israel to refrain from mass deportations of Eritreans following weekend clashes involving refugees, warning it would "contravene international law."

"Any decision impacting all Eritrean asylum-seekers, or instances of refoulement would contravene international law," William Spindler, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters in the Swiss city of Geneva on Tuesday.

Collective punishment is banned under international law, as is refoulement, or returning someone to a country where they could face torture, cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, he said.

The comments came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought Eritrean migrants who were involved in a protest in Tel Aviv to be deported immediately and also ordered a plan to remove all African migrants from the occupied territories.

The far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir now plans to propose a bill that would press ahead with the mass deportation of migrants who entered ‘illegally’.

While stressing that it was "important to establish accountability" for the events, the UNHCR spokesman warned Israel against taking broad measures against Eritreans across the occupied territories.

He insisted that "the vast majority of asylum-seekers living in Israel are peaceful and law-abiding". "The incidents on September 2 are deeply regrettable, and do not reflect the behavior of the broader Eritrean community in Israel."

The developments came days after protests by rival groups of Eritreans in south Tel Aviv.

Eritreans make up the majority of more than 30,000 African asylum seekers in Israel.

The regime has been under fire by rights groups for racism and discrimination against non-white individuals.


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