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Posted in Jubilee of Mercy, Parishes in Israel, Patriarchal Vicars, Slide

The CPAM visits detention camp in Holot

The CPAM visits detention camp in Holot

On Monday, January 18, 2016, a delegation of about twenty from the Coordination for the Pastoral Among Migrants (CPAM) visited the asylum seekers who are detained in the Holot facility in the Negev.

The CPAM decided to pay a solidarity visit to the Catholics detained in Holot in order to wish them merry Christmas and a blessed new year. The visit also came the day after the World Day for Migrants and Refugees. The delegation was made up of priests, sisters and laity who work with migrants coming from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Beer Sheba.

The delegation arrived in Holot just after 9.00 in the morning as a dust storm began to build up. Mikele, one of the leaders of the Geez rite community in Jaffa, was waiting for the members of the delegation and led them to a small shelter, just outside the Holot facility, where tens of detainees were waiting. The majority of the Catholics, about sixty in number, are Eritreans but there are also a few Sudanese. The group was joined by a few Eritrean Orthodox and Sudanese Muslims.

During the three hours that were spent with the group of young men from Eritrea and Sudan there was time to hear from them about their life in Holot. The young men, with determination and faith, described the tragic circumstances of their detainment. All of them have been in Israel for years, speak Hebrew, had found work and were trying to make lives for themselves when they were detained and exiled to this desolate place in the middle of nowhere. They are part of a population of around 47 000 people whom Israel refuses to recognize as refugees and continues to pressure to leave the country.

After a time of listening to the detainees and asking questions, there was time for prayer and song, led by Mikele and Father Medhin, the chaplain of the Geez rite Catholics in Israel. After this, Father David, coordinator of the Church’s pastoral for migrants, gave a brief presentation on the Year of Mercy in English with brief summaries in Hebrew and Arabic. Sister Azezet translated into Tigrinye. Other members of the delegation offered short messages of encouragement.

The visit was an emotional time for the Church to show her solidarity with her children who are excluded and marginalized and to pray that they will be restored to a life of dignity soon.

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