Report on pilot period “Health Insurances”


‘I believe that children are our future.’ says A., a 30-year-old asylum seeker from Eritrea, torture and human trafficking survivor from Sinai Egypt and a mother of three children. Since she lives in Israel she gets support by ASSAF, the partner organization of Desert Rose e.V.

A, went through hell on earth, was trafficked, tortured and raped in Sinai, Egypt. The long-term effects of those traumatic events remain with her to this day: she is dealing with post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) and has to deal with flashbacks and nightmares, loss of emotional control and a constant feeling of stress. As if the struggle with her mental scars was not already hard enough to bear, her children started to have health issues. Y. (6 years old), her oldest son, moaned about racking toothaches. Two of his teeth had to be pulled out due to inflammation but A. could not pay the costs for the intervention.

Her daughter J. (4 years old) suffered from a deformed eyelid. As a result, one of her eyelids was always half closed. She underwent surgery but did not recover properly since her parents were not able to pay for adequate follow-up care. Things got worse when A. youngest son N. (ten months old) was hospitalized only seven weeks after his birth. He suffered from breathing problems, diarrhea and weight loss due to viruses. The hospital put a lot of pressure on A. to pay for the hospital expenses.

Yes, children are indeed the future. But how to take good care of them when even bringing them to a doctor for a routine checkup is impossible? Although Israel has signed the refugee’s treaty, In Israel Eritrean asylum seekers can’t access the asylum process. Israel provides asylum seekers from Eritrea “group protection” and de facto recognizes the danger in their home country. However, asylum seekers under “group protection” are given renewable “conditional release” documents that only defer deportation. While recognized refugees should receive social services, including access to national health care and welfare systems, the Israeli authorities don’t grant asylum seekers rights to access medical and social services, and so leave them at mercy of NGO’s and volunteers.

Therefore, A and her family, have no access to health services and medical care, except in emergency situations. They cannot afford a private health insurance. A. describes how difficult that time was as follows: ‘I was permanently afraid when I had to go to the clinic. Afraid of the sum of money that they will demand. I knew that I would not be able to pay. I felt so helpless and unable to take responsibility for my children.’

Luckily, A. and her family were able to receive help from the ‘Health Insurance project’ of Desert Rose e.V. Through donations, A. and her husband were enabled to pay the health insurance for their three children for one year. We asked A. to which extent this support impacted her and her children’s life. Happily, she states that she feels relieved to be able to take her children to a doctor or the hospital whenever necessary.

She is going to the doctor regularly and receives medication for her children. Her little daughter J. is visiting a doctor two times a month to get treatment for her eyes and her little baby N. receives medicine and can breathe much better now. A. counts herself lucky and wants to express her gratefulness to the donors: ‘Before I had the insurance, I was worried about my children’s future. After receiving the insurance, the stress and anxiety just left me because it is obvious that my children get better. I appreciate what you did for my children. What I could not give them by myself-you provided!

Asylum seekers in Israel do not have free access to public healthcare. This also applies to their children because their parents usually cannot afford health insurance for them.

This lack of health insurance is particularly fatal for children of torture survivors in Sinai. Their parents often suffer from severe trauma, depression, sleep and eating disorders. Some of these children had to watch their mother or father being raped, abused and tortured in torture camps and many of these children even had to experience unimaginable violence themselves.

Example: The fate of the six-year-old girl S.

During their escape from Eritrea the six-year-old girl named S. and her mother were kidnapped and brought to a torture camp on the Sinai Peninsula. The two were held captive in a dark basement for over four months and the mother was raped countless times by various men in front of the little girl’s eyes.

S. has been suffering from chronic diseases since their arrival in Israel four years ago. Since she has no health insurance, S. neither has access to medical nor psychological care.

Health insurance grants access to healthcare

In Israel health insurance for one child costs 120 shekels (about 30 euros) per month and 240 shekels (60 euros) per month for families with two or more children.

Since many torture survivors are not able to work due to their mental and physical injuries and are legally not allowed to either as they do not have a work permit, they simply cannot afford health insurance.

Desert Rose stands up for children of torture survivors by providing them with health insurance thus granting them access to the Israeli healthcare system.

Together with our partner organisation ASSAF (Aid Organisation for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel) we support parents by providing their children with health insurance for at least a year. Our long-term goal is to help families so they can eventually pay the costs for health insurance themselves. Furthermore, ASSAF advocates for the rights for children of asylum seekers on a political level in Israel to grant them basic rights, for example, the formal recognition as a victim of human trafficking (VOHT) or a victim of torture (VOT).

The children of two families are already being supported

As part of a pilot project, Desert Rose is supporting two families with more than two children each by providing them with health insurance for a year. Twice a year Desert Rose receives information about the current situation of the family and the children.

ASSAF is currently supporting at least ten more families with children who are in urgent need of this health insurance project. We need your support in order for us to provide these children with healthcare.

Help us support children by providing them with healthcare and donate now!

Account holder: Desert Rose e.V.
Bank: Sparkasse KölnBonn
IBAN: DE20 3705 0198 1932 0461 52
Account number: 1932046152
Sort code: 37050198
Reference: Health insurance

By using “Health insurance” as reference, you can be sure that the money will go towards health insurance for children. If you have any questions regarding our health insurance project, do not hesitate to contact us via email or our partner organization ASSAF (

Donate a partial amount or become an insurance sponsor.
Your donation is used directly for our health insurance project. As soon as the yearly amount of 814 euros is collected for the insurance (720 euros for the insurance plus 10 per cent for the costs that ASSAF has to pay to carry out the project), we take care of another health insurance for the two or more children of a family.

If you wish to donate the insurance amount of 814 euros covering the health insurance for a family with at least two children for an entire year, you can transfer the money via Paypal or contact us directly so that we can initiate the next steps as soon as possible.

Our project partner ASSAF

Our partner organisation ASSAF, who supports torture and human trafficking survivors in Israel, carries out this health insurance project. ASSAF assists the Sinai survivors by helping them take out the health insurance for their children; the organisation follows the development of the children’s health for the duration of the project. ASSAF informs Desert Rose about the development of every family we are supporting on a regular basis. You can follow the course of the project and the number of families we are supporting on our website.

ASSAF has been fighting for the rights of asylum seekers and their children in Israel for many years. They have developed many specific programmes to help torture and human trafficking survivors. For instance, there is a programme that offers group therapy that teaches the survivors how to cope with the traumas they have experienced. Our project partner ASSAF has so far not had the funds to pay for health insurance. With the help of Desert Rose and your donations, ASSAF hopes to provide health insurance to as many children as possible whose parents are not able to afford healthcare and therefore grant access to the Israeli healthcare system.

For further information go to:
Donate directly via the red donate button or via the yellow “Spenden” button on the top left. Thank you very much!

Author: Lucia Heisterkamp
Translation: Nicole Freibott/ Diana Köth/ Melanie Martin

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