Report: Israel´s treatment of asylum seekers lacking (YNetNews.Com -Yedioth Internet) Omri Efraim Published: 05.24.12, 22:50)
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US State Department´s Human Rights Practices report for 2011
criticizes government mechanism as discriminatory; slams ministers´
use of term ´infiltrators,´ fostering of link between refugees and
A United States State Department report reviewing the global
situation of refugees and asylum seekers in 2011 describes Israel´s
treatment of African asylum seekers as "lacking."
The report, titled "Human Rights Practices for 2011," was released on
Thursday. It deals with a series of criteria pertaining to asylum
cases, such as legal status and the providing of shelter, employment
and healthcare; and is based on data provided by NGOs and the United
Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
The report says that while Israel´s laws "provide for the granting of
temporary asylum and the government has established a system for
providing temporary protection for most asylum seekers, there were
complaints about the systemís accessibility and reports of
The current laws, the report added, "Allow the Ministry of Interior
to reject applications without appeal even at the registration stage,
and exclude ´enemy nationals´ from receiving asylum. The regulations
fail to establish an independent appeal process."
UNHCR data quoted by the State Department indicated that in 2011,
4,603 new asylum applications were filed; the government rejected
3,692 and approved one.
The report further criticized the use of the term "infiltrators" by
State officials: "Government officials often negatively referred to
asylum seekers as ´infiltrators.´
"According to NGOs, officials periodically characterized asylum
seekers as directly associated with rises in crime, disease, and
The report also mentions an interview Interior Minister Eli Yishai
gave Army Radio in December 2011, in which he said: "I will safeguard
the Jewish majority of the state, and I ensure that the last of the
Sudanese, and the Eritreans, and all of the infiltrators, to the last
of them, will return to their countries."
Government promoting hate?
While "recognized refugees receive social services, including access
to the national healthcare system," the report noted that the
government does not provide asylum seekers with public social
benefits such as health insurance.
The report does, however, mention that in 2011 Israel granted
temporary protection to refugees, primarily to Eritrean and Sudanese
asylum seekers, and at times to asylum seekers from the Democratic
Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, and Somalia.
Physicians for Human Rights commented on the report´s findings,
saying that "Sans proper protection and in preventing access to basic
services like healthcare and equal opportunity-employment, Israel has
become an ugly example for the treatment of asylum seekers.
"Statements like those made by Minister Yishai, which are quoted in
the report, only go to demonstrate how busy the Israeli government is
with siccing various groups against each other, instead of
formulating responsible policies," the statement said.
"We remind the prime minister and the government that they are
responsible. The prime minister must make the brave decision to adopt
a policy of social residency, which will provide asylum seekers with
temporary protection and a dignified existence, pending the decision
on their cases." (Copyright 2012 © Yedioth Internet 05/24/12)
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