Erklärung von ASSAF zur aktuellen Abschiebepolitik Israels


Israel announces imminent deportation of African refugees to Rwanda and Uganda. On January 1, 2018, refugees and asylum seekers woke with a new and urgent threat: The Population and Migration Authority sent refugees and asylum seekers the following message: “Enforcement measures will be taken against infiltrators who have been ordered by the Population and Migration Authority to leave the country and do not do so. Enforcement actions will also be taken against their employers.” And if this was not enough, the draconian decree continues: “Whoever submits an asylum application after 01.01.18 [the same day that the announcements and posters were hung] will not delay deportation!” NOTE, this message was sent to refugees and asylum-seekers on January 1, 2018; thus, leaving refugees and asylum-seekers with little or no time to appeal or fight this horrific decree.

History of deportation1 to third-party African countries

On March 2015 the Ministry of the Interior announced a change in the Israel government’s refugee program2: according to the new plan, refusal to depart to a third country under this scheme would result in indefinite detention under the 1952 Entry to Israel Law. The Ministry clarified that the enforced departure scheme would only apply to Eritrean and Sudanese nationals who did not file an asylum claim or whose asylum claims were rejected.

In August 2017, the Supreme Court of Israel determined (in an appeal before an expanded panel of five judges that was submitted by the Clinic for Refugees, Tel Aviv University on behalf of ASSAF and a network of partnering CSOs against Beer Sheva Court for Administrative Affairs) that asylum seekers cannot be interned as a means to coerce their agreement to be deported to a third country. However, with that, the Court also sanctioned the controversial forced relocation policy if Israel ensured that the written agreements with third party countries, i.e., Rwanda and Uganda, allowed for nonvoluntary deportation.

Following the Court decision, Prime Minister Netanyahu amended the agreement Israel signed with Rwanda in a way that allows it to deport asylum seekers against their will. Israel will pay Rwanda $5,000 for all refugees and asylum seekers that Rwanda agrees to take. Effectively, the Government of Israel has determined that refugees and asylum seekers lives are worth $5,000. The amendment of the agreement is intended to enable the state to circumvent the Supreme Court ruling and indefinitely detain asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan who refuse to leave for Rwanda. Now the Interior Ministry has begun to implement this policy toward them, and with that close the Holot Detention Center and deport RAS to Uganda and Rwanda.

On January 1, 2018 the Government of Israel gave notice and implemented yet another draconian policy with the intention of deporting refugees and asylum seekers and denying their rights, rights that have been recognized internationally and ones that should certainly be sacred to the Jewish state3. Women, children, parents and recognized victims of human trafficking are currently exempt from deportation, but the Procedure emphasizes this is only a temporary measure. The Procedure does not exempt people with medical conditions, including physical and mental disabilities, or torture victims.4

Deportation to Rwanda and Uganda risks refugees’ lives.

Israel is determined to deport refugees to a dangerous and unsafe country. Due to this, many deported refugees will die. Rwanda is not safe. Testimonies collected by Israeli and international organizations show that Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers and refugees who left Israel under such arrangements have not received status in the receiving countries. Many who arrived in Rwanda were not allowed to stay and were smuggled illegally to Uganda by the same people who welcomed them at the Airport.5 Many asylum seekers said they faced demands for bribe or were robbed along the way. Cases of arbitrary detention were also documented, including threats of refoulement to Eritrea, as well as problems accessing the asylum process due to a lack of documentation. Most refugees continued their journey towards Europe. Some were tortured or killed in Libya: others drowned in the Mediterranean. Israel only began monitoring the situation of those who left due to the intervention of the Israeli Supreme Court and has done so in an irregular and insufficient manner. All evidence indicates that any refugee or asylum seeker deported to Rwanda finds herself stateless, status-less and rights-less, exposed to threats, kidnapping, torture, and trafficking. Only a few will succeed in surviving the journey and eventually reaching a safe harbor.

The truth in numbers

Today, only 35,300 RAS live in Israel. At is height approximately 60,000 RAS entered Israel. Since 2013, with the completion of the security fence between Israel and Egypt only 300 RAS have entered Israel from Egypt. In 2017, NO RAS have entered Israel. Thus, Israel’s claims that the refugees will change Israel’s demographics or are a threat to the Jewish hegemony is substantially without fact!

Israel knows that it is forbidden to expel refugees and must under international law, treaties, and conventions offer refugees a fair, unbiased process and opportunity to submit a refugee request and examine it properly. It certainly must not deport asylum seekers before examining their asylum applications.

Israel has deliberately implemented policies and procedures that prevent African refugees and asylum seekers from applying for asylum and then determines that those who have not applied can be deported. Refugee Status Determination (RSD), the process determining whether a refugee is eligible for protection under the 1951 UN Refugee Rights Convention, is for all practical purposes dysfunctional in Israel. Israel has recognized very few asylum seekers as refugees (less than 0.2 %); which is significantly lower than any other Western country. This year, seven thousand Eritreans and Sundaneses attempted to file asylum requests but were prevented from doing so by the Population and Migration Authority. There is only one office in the entire country in which applications can submit asylum applications. Effectively, the Population and Migration Authority has prevented African refugees and asylum seekers from exercising their rights; instead, this process leaves thousands of asylum seekers waiting in line for days without any recourse. Out of the 13,764 asylum-seekers who have submitted asylum requests (data true to July 2017) ONLY 10 have received refugee status, and thousands have been denied without even being verified. This is despite the fact that in other Western countries 87% of Eritreans and 63% of Sudanese receive refugee status. Today, 7,282 refugee requests have not been verified and are not being answered.

The Government of Israel (GoI) does not provide shelter, medical, or welfare services, living allowances, or essential social services. These conditions make the RAS community one of the most marginalized populations in Israel, further exacerbating the already dire characteristics of refugees. Moreover, RAS – particularly the most vulnerable among them – women, children and people with disabilities – often live in abject poverty struggling to survive. RAS work long hours in difficult physical jobs and are vulnerable to employer abuse; many suffer from trauma stemming from prior events and torture that they endured in the violence they faced prior to migration or on the way to Israel.

In addition, RAS face is the amendment to Section 4 of the Prevention of Infiltration (Offenses and Jurisdiction) Law, 5714-1954, which has been dubbed the “Deposit Law” and deducts 20% of asylum seekers’ wages and submits them to a state managed fund, along with 16% of their employer paid wages. This is yet another brutal measure intended to leave RAS penniless and powerless and to pressure asylum seekers to leave „voluntarily.“

[1] Violating the UNHCR’s principle of non-refoulement:
[2] Up until now, RAS have been under “temporary protection” and are allowed to stay in Israel provisionally with a vague „conditional release“ status that does not entitle them to basic rights, not even work permits.
[3] On 1 January 2018, The MOI’s Population Immigration and Borders Authority published the protocol of the Procedure for Transfer to Third Countries, despite serious concerns from UNHCR over the plan. See UNHCR response to the plan,
[4] There are several thousands of refugees in Israel, mainly Eritreans, who survived torture including systematic rape by smugglers in the Sinai Peninsula. Israel has failed to identify and rehabilitate them despite clear recommendations to do so by the UN Committee against Torture and Israel’s obligations under the Convention against Torture. For the UN Committee against Torture’s Final Observations to Israel, can be downloaded from here
[5] See for instance: IRRI, „I was left with nothing”: “Voluntary” departures of asylum seekers from Israel to Rwanda and Uganda, 2015,; Hotline, Deported To The Unknown, 2015 and; Andrew Green, Inside Israel’s Secret Program to Get Rid of African Refugees, Foreign Policy

Quelle: ASSAF – Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel

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