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Seeking Asylum in Israel

The number of African asylum seekers in Israel has grown substantially in recent years, now standing at roughly 60,000, mostly from Eritrea and Sudan. Israel has agreed to refrain from deporting nationals from those countries due to the risk they would face, but is pursuing a string of restrictive measures to stem the tide of arrivals. In May of last year, a nighttime mob attack took place against African migrants and their properties in south Tel Aviv, fueled by the state’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. +972 has tracked the unfolding developments and challenges faced by a status-less community under increasing pressure. 

  • Resource: Coercing African asylum seekers to go home

    Israeli authorities have unlawfully coerced almost 7,000 Eritrean and Sudanese nationals into returning to their home countries where they risk serious abuse, Human Rights Watch said in a report released in September 2014. Some returning Sudanese have faced torture, arbitrary detention, and treason charges in Sudan for setting foot in Israel, while returning Eritreans also face a serious risk of abuse. The 83-page report, “‘Make Their Lives Miserable’: Israel’s Coercion of Eritrean and Sudanese Asylum Seekers to Leave Israel,” documents how Israel’s convoluted legal rules thwart Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers’ attempts to secure protection under Israeli and international law.…

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  • Marching toward freedom in a fictional plot of land

    Nearly 1,000 African asylum seekers walked out of Israel's 'open' detention facility last week, saying they were headed to a strip of UN-controlled territory along the Egyptian border. This is the story of their march -- full of hopes, determination and desperation. Encampment air hangs hot and still. Under a dry canopy of Eucalyptus it swaddles the crowds of Sudnese and Eritrean asylum seekers who make temporary beds here, some 300 meters from the Israeli-Egyptian border. Hassan Abdaiiah Adam, a 30-year-old asylum seeker from Darfur, passes thick fingers over the yellow whistle that he wears around his neck. He has…

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  • PHOTOS: Asylum seekers march out of 'open prison,' demand resettlement

    Around 1,000 asylum seekers walk out of the Holot open detention facility but are stopped short of the Egyptian border, announce they will no longer seek acceptance by the Israeli government and demand that the United Nations take responsibility for them and resettle them in third countries. Text by Michael Omer-Man Photos by Oren Ziv, Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org   Update (Sunday 8:30 p.m.): Police arrested the asylum seekers and loaded them onto buses. For more information and photos, click here. Update (Sunday 7 p.m.): Police told asylum seekers that they have 15 minutes to get onto buses back to…

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  • PHOTOS: French authorities threaten to destroy migrant camps

    Migrants in Calais, France occupy a food distribution center to protest Paris’s threat to evict them from their camps. Groups of migrants set up camps on the coast in hopes of sneaking across the channel to the UK. By Anne Paq/Activestills.org Despite rainy weather, hundreds of migrants occupied a food distribution center in the French city of Calais Monday night in order to protest against the imminent eviction of their camps. The evictions of three main camps that shelter over 600 migrants in the city, are expected to take place in the next days according to French authorities. A social…

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  • WATCH: Confronting an Israeli minister for flouting int'l law

    Sadiq al-Sadiq was returned to Israel earlier this month after finding himself being sent -- against his will -- back to Sudan, from where he fled persecution and genocide. Sadiq is just one of hundreds or thousands of Sudanese who have been pressured to leave Israel. Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar, who is responsible for the asylum seeker population in Israel, has made it clear that he intends to empty the country of African asylum seekers. "If we treat this [problem] like liberals, we'll lose the country," he has said in the past. Earlier this month, one Israeli activist confronted Sa'ar…

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  • Sudanese asylum seeker returns to Israel following 'deportation'

    Sadiq al-Sadiq says he never agreed to return to his home country, where he fears persecution. Israeli authorities, however, say he signed a document agreeing to just that. Based on Avi Belcherman's Hebrew article on +972's sister site, "Local Call" Adapted by Michael Omer-Man A Darfurian asylum seeker who left the Israel last week under the assumption that he was going to a third country — but soon found himself being sent back to Sudan — was returned to Israel on Friday. Activists said that his return to Israel took place against his will, and that he was being held…

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  • Israel hasn't recognized one Sudanese refugee

    Worldwide, the refugee recognition rate for Sudanese is nearly 70 percent. Out of the 10,000 in Israel, not one has been granted refugee status. By Elizbaeth Tsurkov The State of Israel recognized just over 200 refugees ever since it signed the Refugee Convention in 1954, but none of them are Sudanese nationals. You read it right - Israel hasn't recognized even one of the survivors of the Darfur genocide or the ethnic cleansing in the Nuba Mountains or Blue Nile regions as refugees. The recognition rate of Sudanese nationals as refugees is one of the highest in the world: 68.2 percent…

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  • The other ‘1 percent’: On refugees and Passover

    When we look around us this Passover, we are not the ones in need of protection, and we are not the ones escaping slavery. Somehow Israel has missed this role-reversal. Text by Rebecca De Vries and Natasha Roth Photos by Karen Zack Freedom of movement and the right to liberty do not apply to anyone who is not a citizen or resident. So spoke the Knesset's legal representative at a High Court hearing on the Prevention of Infiltration Law at the beginning of this month. The statement adequately summarises the attitude of the Israeli government - and much of the…

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  • A Passover lesson: 'And then we were free'

    By Eli Valley Eli Valley is a writer and artist whose work has been published in New York Magazine, The Daily Beast, Gawker, Saveur, Haaretz and elsewhere. Eli is currently finishing his first novel. His website is www.EVComics.com and he tweets at @elivalley.

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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