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Video: Asylum seekers in limbo at Israel-Egypt border fence

FRANCE 24 | A section of the Israeli-Egyptian border fence in the Negev Desert

Since taking office, US President Donald Trump has touted Israel’s border walls as a model for his own plans to build a barrier with Mexico. FRANCE 24 looks at the life of one migrant stuck in the Israeli-Egyptian border area of the Negev Desert.

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Ali was only 14 years old when he fled war in Sudan’s western Darfur region, leaving his family behind. It would take him five long years to reach the Israeli border in 2010.

“For me going back would mean going to my grave. Back is more dangerous than forward. And I just decided to cross the border, so it was definitely like prison,” he told FRANCE 24 as he walked along a section of fencing along Israel’s border with Egypt.

Construction of the barrier – a 245 kilometre (152 mile) stretch of barbed wire and fortified steel fencing designed to prevent illegal migrants from entering Israel – began just months after Ali’s arrival in the country. It took a total of three years to complete work on the wall, the longest in Israel.

“The construction of the wall between Sinai and Israel clearly had a dissuasive effect. But the wall was in fact only the first measure,” said Jean-Marc Liling, executive director of the Center for International Migration and Integration. “The whole policy of the government was to criminalise these clandestine migrants and to make them not refugees but ‘infiltrators’. But for some it is really a matter of survival. They are ready to risk everything to come to our country.”

Ali echoed Liling’s comments, expressing the despair many migrants feel after reaching Israel.

“For those of us who are coming here, inside Israel, we don’t have any hope. We don’t have any kind of refugee status,” he said.

To watch FRANCE 24’s full report on this story, click on the player above.

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