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refugees

  • WATCH: Israeli students stage soccer tournament for refugees

    Israel is imprisoning thousands of African asylum seekers in a desert detention facility called ‘Holot.’ A group of students and youngsters from Be’er Sheva, in southern Israel, recently organized a soccer tournament with the asylum seekers in an attempt to make them feel less isolated. Israeli authorities systematically deny the Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers any chance of getting refugee status, leaving them without any legal status in the country, and often detaining them without charge or trial. Read more on the situation of refugees and asylum seekers in Israel here.

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  • It's been 10 years since I applied for refugee status in Israel

    It’s been exactly 10 years since I crossed the border into Israel. I’ve been imprisoned, I've become ill, I was forced to renew my visa 62 times, and now I’m back in a detention facility — Holot. Is seeking asylum a crime? By Hassan Rahima This Sunday marked 10 years since I applied for refugee status in Israel. I’ve been waiting since December 6, 2005, the day I crossed the border from Egypt. My journey into the unknown continues. I was 17 years old when my village, Smasm, in the South Kordofan province of Sudan’s Nuba Mountains, was attacked. Most…

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  • Activists alter sign at entrance to Jerusalem: ‘Welcome Refugees’

    Drivers entering Jerusalem this week were greeted by an unusual message, which activists hope will jump-start a public discussion about the Israeli government's treatment of refugees. By Raanan Shemesh Forshner A group of activists from Jerusalem altered the official sign at the entrance to the city this week so that anyone driving in saw an unusual message: “Welcome refugees.” The addition of “refugees” was removed after a few hours. [tmwinpost] “We felt like we had to do something for the wellbeing of asylum seekers,” the activists explained. “Dozens of asylum seekers have been killed on Israel’s southern border in recent weeks,”…

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  • Israel’s ultimatum to refugees: Indefinite detention or danger

    An Israeli court upholds the government’s policy of indefinitely imprisoning African asylum if they don’t agree to ‘voluntary deportation’ to third countries with no legal status. The xenophobia driving Israel's policy is top-down, but there is another way. By Anat Ovadia-Rosner The Be’er Sheva District Court rejected a petition filed by human rights organizations earlier this month, thereby green lighting the indefinite imprisonment of asylum seekers unless they agree to leave Israel for a third country. The term “voluntary deportation” has always described a dubious state of affairs: people who risked their lives to get to Israel, whom the state…

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  • The 'lynching' of Habtom Zarhum: A history of incitement

    Activists, asylum seekers and refugee advocates in Israel are pointing to the incitement directed toward African asylum seekers — by politicians, state institutions and the media — as necessary context for the vigilante mob and shooting that killed an Eritrean asylum seeker. An Eritrean asylum seeker was mistaken for a Palestinian during a shooting attack at the Be’er Sheva bus station Sunday night. Habtom Zarhum, 29, was shot by a security guard who thought he was a terrorist and then – as the asylum seeker lay bleeding on the ground – civilians kicked him, cursed and spat on him. A bystander…

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  • A place of dignity for refugees in Berlin

    An outpouring of hospitality is on full display at a shelter in the German capital, where volunteers insist on treating refugees as people, not just victims. But as the gifts pour in, how deep is the well of kindness — and what is brewing under the surface? BERLIN — A few young teenage Arab boys line up loosely, side by side, in a concrete courtyard. They are concentrating hard on four big guys dressed in black, who are busting hip-hop moves to music blaring from an amplifier. The boys bounce a little with the beat, then follow after the big…

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  • Searching for a way into Europe: A photo dispatch from Hungary

    One by one, day by day, Europe is closing its gates to refugees desperately searching for a way in. Confused, exhausted and frightened, at times they don’t even know what country they are in. Two Activestills photographers follow refugees as they make their way toward Germany. Photos and text by Keren Manor & Mareike Lauken / Activestills.org The train rolls to a stop at a small town on the Hungarian border town, Hegyeshalom. Some 1,500 refugees, the vast majority of them from Syria and Afghanistan, descend and start marching along the tracks in silence. Outside the train station and alongside the…

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  • Four simple things Israel can do to help refugees

    There's no reason contributing solutions needs to be scary. Here are four viable steps Israel can take that will actually help the various refugee populations in its midst. Israeli politicians and prominent figures in the local media have begun paying attention to the refugee crisis playing out in Europe in recent days. Well, actually, that’s a misnomer. Europe is starting to pay attention to the Syrian refugee crisis because massive numbers of Syrian refugees are now arriving on its shores and borders. In recent days, one set of prominent figures has called on the Israeli government to start absorbing in…

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  • In English Bibi calls Syrians migrants, in Hebrew they're 'infiltrators'

    Netanyahu's message is clear: in Hebrew there is no such thing as a Syrian refugee who might find shelter in Israel; instead, there are infiltrators and terrorists. Israeli officials are rather fond of pointing out the different messages Palestinian and Arab leaders put out in Arabic and English. It turns out Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu isn’t much better. Netanyahu responded Sunday morning to a call by opposition leader Isaac Herzog, in light of the refugee crisis in Europe, for Israel to open its border with Syria to refugees fleeing ISIS and the civil war there. [tmwinpost] Explaining why he will…

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  • Asylum seekers say Israeli authorities use food to pressure them

    A new report by a refugee organization says the food Israeli prison authorities provide to African asylum seekers being detained in Holot does not meet their nutritional needs. During the Ramadan fast, the many restrictions on food in the 'open' facility make life even tougher on Muslim asylum seekers from Darfur. Some detainees say the hardships are intentional, part of a wider policy aimed at pressuring them to leave Israel. By Oren Ziv / Activestills.org Just before eight at night, as dinner is being served inside the prison, hundreds of asylum seekers being held in Israel’s Holot "open" detention facility…

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  • A year since protests, detained asylum seekers hint at new strategy

    When I meet Jack outside the “Holot” desert detention facility in southern Israel, currently home to some 1,900 asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea, the first thing he wanted to tell me is what bothers him about the Israelis that come to visit him and his friends. “Not many people come to visit us at Holot. The few that do come — they help us, and that’s great. But that is not going to change our situation here in Israel. We expect every Israeli to try and affect change through the political system — specifically, the government’s policy toward us, the…

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  • Asylum seeker who left Israel: 'I believed them when they said I could stay in Uganda'

    The following is a redacted version of an affidavit that was attached to a petition filed by Israeli human rights NGOs and the Tel Aviv University Refugee Rights' Clinic against the recently announced policy of indefinitely incarcerating Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers who refuse to leave Israel for Rwanda or Uganda. Under a new policy announced on March 31, 2015, asylum-seekers detained in Holot will be offered to leave Israel for an unnamed third country. If they refuse to do so, after 30 days, they would be incarcerated in Saharonim prison. Dozens of Eritrean asylum-seekers in Holot have since undergone interviews in…

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