With the continued economic and political turmoil in many African countries, including Eritrea, and the genocide in Sudan, there are thousands upon thousands of refugees seeking a better life elsewhere. Israel is the only place with a standard of living better than what they left that the refugees can walk to. Like many countries, Israel is not sure what to do with the flood of people coming their way. The UN says that over 53,000 people have entered Israel seeking refuge, but Israel does not want them to remain there permanently, even if they claim to be of the Jewish faith.
The temporary status of the African refugees place them in a tough situation. They have to do some sort of work to survive, and they do not have the protections of citizenship. Many times, the people are forced to work for incredibly low wages and long hours. Those with children must make the choice between not working or attempting to find extremely inexpensive childcare, which can often mean the children are left in questionable areas.
The childcare centers have been called “baby warehouses” because of their conditions. According to Addicting Info, the centers are defined by their “filth, squalor and the vast numbers of infants confined to small spaces with minimal staffing.” The centers are known by the government, but are not shut down because it is the only place that the parents can afford child care, and if they were to be shut down, the parents would be forced to stay home.
The conditions are sad, and death is often the result. Five babies have died already in 2015. “The number of adults is totally inadequate to feed each child individually,” Maya Peleg, director of Unitaf, is quoted by Addicting Info as saying. “They are sometimes propped up against a pillow with a bottle attached to their neck. That is how one of the babies recently died, choking.”
Civil Rights activists are not only concerned with the infants’ deaths, but the long-term effect of the situation on those who survive. The lack of positive support, interaction, and stimulation can lead to severe developmental setbacks and can affect the babies’ emotional, social, motor, and cognitive development.
While no child deserves to live in such conditions and the parents should not be subject to indentured servitude, the refugees knew that these were the conditions that would be in store for them before they came. But they came anyway because the life they fled from was much, much worse than the one they now face in Israel, inconceivable as that may seem to those in the Western world.
Israel has made it very clear that the people are not citizens, will not become citizens, and they want them to leave.