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Ethiopian Immigrants ‘Sick of Ghettos’

Ethiopian-Israeli activist explains nationwide protests, says Ethiopian immigrants are stuck in absorption center 'ghettos.'
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 8/8/2012, 9:45 AM

Protest at Mevaseret Tzion absorption center
Protest at Mevaseret Tzion absorption center
Flash 90

Hundreds of Ethiopian immigrants have been protesting this week in absorption centers across the country. Ethiopian-Israeli activist Dr. Avraham Negussie spoke to Arutz Sheva and explained the issue.

Immigrants want to leave the absorption centers, he said. “There are immigrants who have been in absorption centers for eight years already, shut up in ghettos.”

“They want to go out and integrate in Israeli society,” he said. “But they cannot.”

The problem, he explained, is that most immigrants from Ethiopia do not qualify for bank mortgage, and so rely on government mortgages – which no longer suffice to buy housing. “Since 1990, it’s been the same amount, 330,000 shekels. Once that was enough to buy an apartment outside central Israel, but today it’s impossible,” he said.

“Most of them do not have steady work, and have no option of getting loans elsewhere,” he continued.

The government offers an additional 120,000 shekels in housing aid, in the form of 2,000 a month in rent subsidies for five years. “So we’re telling the state to take that money and add it to the mortgage,” he added.

Negussie predicted that the protest movement will not abate without a government response. On the contrary, he said, activists will take additional measures until their demands are addressed. “They simply do not have a choice,” he said. “Otherwise, they will stay in these ghettos for many years to come.”