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Israel Okays Immigration for Thousands of Ethiopians

Israel Okays Immigration for Thousands of Ethiopians

Monday, 29 November, 2021 - 04:30
Ethiopian refugees who fled Tigray region, queue to receive food aid within the Um-Rakoba camp in Al-Qadarif state, on the border, in Sudan December 11, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/File Photo

The Israeli government on Sunday approved the immigration of 3,000 Ethiopians, some of whom have waited for decades to join their relatives in Israel.

A statement from Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's office said cabinet unanimously agreed to allow 3,000 Ethiopians who have first-degree relatives in Israel to enter the country "immediately".

It identified those with "first-degree relatives" as having a parent, child or sibling in Israel.

"Those eligible for immigration will be allowed to bring with them their spouses, minor children, and unmarried adult children.

"Additionally, a person whose parents came to Israel and died here, will also be allowed to immigrate," it added.

Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, the first Ethiopian Jewish woman elected to Israel's parliament, hailed the move.

“Today we are correcting an ongoing injustice,” she said, adding the program was a response to people who have waited “too many years to come to Israel with their families” and to resolve a “painful issue.”

"This is an important decision for the Ethiopian community in Israel and their families," she said.

"Finally, parents, children, siblings and orphans will be reunited with their families after decades of waiting."

The move comes as a year of fighting in Ethiopia between Tigray rebels and government forces has left hundreds of thousands in famine-like conditions.

Kasaw Shiferaw, chairman of the group Activists for the Immigration of Ethiopian Jews, welcomed Sunday's decision but said there was still a long way to go.

“On one hand, this decision makes me happy. Three thousand people are realizing a dream and uniting with their families,” he said.

“But it's not a final resolution. Thousands are still waiting in camps, some for more than 25 years. We expect the government to bring all of them,” he said.

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