Foreign workers pick flowers
Foreign workers pick flowersFlash 90

A working delegation from the Center for International Migration and Integration (CIMI) left for Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, on Sunday in order to expedite bringing more laborers from the embattled country to Israel. This is within the framework of a bilateral agreement signed by Israel and Ukraine intended to enable the arrival of thousands of much needed construction workers to Israel in an authorized manner.

This agreement joins the series of bilateral agreements between Israel and other countries that enable workers to enter the workforce without a middle man and is meant to prevent human trafficking, a global epidemic.

Recent statistics presented at a CIMI meeting showed that in Israel there are 81,500 legal foreign workers, most of them (48,000) in the caregiving field. There are an additional 21,000 working in agriculture and 8,200 work in construction.

Director of the Foreign Workers' Enforcement Unit, Yossi Edelstein, stated that in Israel there are 148,000 illegal aliens, among them 91,000 tourists whose visas have expired, 41, 477 asylum seekers and mostly from Eritrea and Sudan. Additionally there are 15, 280 illegal workers.

Edelstein emphasized that the number of those refused entry to Israel from the former Soviet Union has doubled in recent years.

Gideon Cohen, the head of the government’s unit for promoting voluntary departure of migrant workers stated that in the past three years 15,086 illegals left Israel of their own volition, 2679 in 2016, 3381 in 2015 and 6414 in 2014. The vast majority returned to their country of origin and only 3,500 moved to other countries. He claimed that Israeli representatives supervise and closely monitor what happens after workers return home of their own volition.

CIMI Founder and Chairman of the Board Arnon Mantver stated that bilateral agreements are crucial for preventing human trafficking. Mantver confirmed the above statistics.

Each of the three types of labor attracts workers from specific countries. Most construction workers are Chinese (3,284) or Moldavian (2,099 workers). Agriculture attracts Thai workers (21,034) while caregivers come from an array of countries including Philippines (15,200), India (9,998), Moldova (7,765), Sri Lanka (5,061) and Nepal (3052).

CIMI emphasized that with the integration of foreign workers into the Israeli workforce, progress has been made in finding balance between the needs of the state and Israeli employers and protecting the rights of the workers themselves.

Most notable past bilateral agreements that have served to limit human rights violations of foreign workers, organize the way they are recruited and raising their awareness of rights owed to them.