(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

The Government today (Sunday), 10 February 2008, approved a multi-year economic plan to improve the absorption in Israel of immigrants from Ethiopia. The Government thus decided to adopt the plan that had been formulated by an interministerial Directors-General committee chaired by Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Ra’anan Dinur and Prime Minister’s Office Policy Planning Division Director Ehud Farauer. The Directors-General of the Immigrant Absorption, Construction and Housing, Education, Social Welfare and Social Services and Industry, Trade and Labor ministries were members of the committee, as were Ethiopian community representatives.

The Government has set for itself, in 2008-2013, the goal of improving the absorption of members of the Ethiopian community in order to advance their integration into Israeli society. Their absorption will be promoted by dealing with employment, education, social welfare, housing and absorption. The plan focuses on strengthening the young population (16-35) and in dealing with neighborhoods with large Ethiopian populations. The plan was formulated following extensive research in the fields of social welfare, education and employment.

The main goals of the plan are to advance the ability of young community members to find proper employment and higher education, which are the main keys to long-term integration; to enable new immigrants and young couples to purchase proper housing in established communities, via increased financial assistance; and to improve education, social welfare, community services and employment near their places of residence via the rehabilitation of neighborhoods with large immigrant populations.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that all relevant Government ministries were mobilized to evaluate the problems that characterize Ethiopians living in Israel. The plan was formulated together with them. It will provide fundamental solutions to the problem of the immigrants’ integration into Israeli society. "The involvement of Government ministries and the full cooperation of the immigrants’ representatives enabled us to build a plan based on the community’s genuine needs. Therefore, I am convinced that this plan will lead to an improvement in their situation and to their full integration into Israeli society," the Prime Minister said.

Data:

* Approximately 110,000 Ethiopian immigrants are living in Israel today.  Of these, 31% were born in Israel.

* Approximately 50% of Ethiopian immigrants are 19 and younger.  Approximately 28% are six and younger.  15,000 are between 20-35.

* Approximately 8,800 Ethiopian immigrants live in 27 absorption centers.  Approximately 25% of Ethiopian immigrant families live in approximately 15 neighborhoods.

* Unemployment for Ethiopian men and women, 18-35, is 20.6% and 18.3%, respectively.

* 68% of Ethiopian immigrants live below the poverty line (as compared to 21% of immigrants from the former USSR).