| Refugees and Asylum Seekers |
Israel has seen a significant increase in asylum claims in the last few years. Problems with refugee protection in Egypt lead refugees from Sudan, Eritrea and other African countries to cross into Israel. In 2007 alone, some 5,000 refugees crossed the Egyptian border into Israel. Currently, the vast majority of refugees entering Israel are placed in detention. Those who were previously released also risk re-arrest and detention.
Most refugees are held in former or current military prisons in Israel's south, including Nafcha, Ramon and Shikma. The vast majority, over 1,000, including some 150 women and children, are placed in Ketziot prison near the Egyptian border. At Ketziot, they are 'housed' in eight large tents. Exposed to the elements, they lack sufficient access to phones, hot water, bathrooms and other basic items. Furthermore, the staff, used to working with security prisoners, are unaccustomed to the unique needs of this population. The process of release from detention is complicated and problematic.
Israel lacks refugee legislation and the country's nascent refugee system is collapsing under the weight of recent arrivals. While 600 refugees from Darfur have received status, the rest are stuck in on-going limbo regarding their futures.
This project is supported by the Samuel Sebba Charitable Trust, the Ksirer Foundation, the Sigrid Rausing Trust, the UNHCR, the Moriah Fund and many private donors.