This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is deeply concerned by the violent clashes that took place in south Tel Aviv on Saturday, 2 September, resulting in injuries to over 170 asylum-seekers and dozens of police officers. UNHCR extends its sympathy to all those affected and condemns any acts of violence. UNHCR calls for calm and restraint, and on all parties to refrain from taking any steps that could aggravate the situation further.

The vast majority of asylum-seekers living in Israel are peaceful and law-abiding. The incidents on 2 September are deeply regrettable and do not reflect the behaviour of the broader Eritrean community in Israel.

Refugees and asylum-seekers are legal residents of Israel. They are obliged to respect the law of their host country and are subject to the same procedures as any other resident or citizen, including in the case of any criminal conduct. UNHCR is concerned about the use of administrative detention for an undefined period for the asylum-seekers arrested in connection with Saturday’s events, or any asylum-seeker for migration-related issues, without appropriate safeguards.

While it is important to establish accountability for what happened on Saturday, any decision impacting all Eritrean asylum-seekers or instances of refoulement would contravene international law and could result in dramatic human consequences, as the situation in Eritrea remains unchanged.

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