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Research Report on the Status of Children of Asylum Seekers in Israel and Around the World

Research Report on the Status of Children of Asylum Seekers in Israel and Around the World

On the occasion of World Refugee Day, the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants published a research report criticizing the State of Israel’s treatment of children of asylum seekers. The report compares Israel’s policies with those of ten Western countries.

The report shows that if the children of asylum seekers in Israel had lived in any of the ten countries for the same length as they have resided in Israel, most of them would have already been entitled to citizenship or permanent status.

The study shows that a person who has been recognized as a refugee, who is a beneficiary of supplementary protection, or is without citizenship will be able to gain permanent status within a short period in Canada and New Zealand, after four years in Finland, after five years in France and Italy, and after eight years in Germany. This applies to both the individual and his or her children.

The study also shows that even if the parents resided in the country illegally, their children born in the host countries could gain citizenship upon birth in Canada and the U.S., and permanent status leading to citizenship in several other countries. This process would take four years in Germany, five years in France, and ten years in the U.K. and Australia.

Nearly 8,000 children have been born in Israel to African asylum seeker parents. Most of these children are of Eritrean descent, as well as Sudanese and Congolese descent. Most of the parents hold a type 2A5 “Conditional Detention Release” visa, which prevents them and their children from accessing social rights or state-sponsored health insurance. Those children are not given any identification document, which is a major burden in their day-to-day life. They are educated in the Israeli education system, their primary language is Hebrew, and their culture is Israel—but they live without security, stability, or a genuine ability to plan for their futures. Studies show that this instability and the ongoing threat of deportation impair normal childhood development. Among the children are those born to survivors of the Sinai torture camps, as well as asylum seekers suffering from severe post-trauma due to the atrocities they endured. These children are particularly vulnerable as the State of Israel never provided their parents with the rehabilitation and care they require.

The State of Israel has previously granted permanent status to children of migrants who remained in Israel illegally. In 2005, 2006, and 2010, the government made one-time decisions that allowed children who met certain criteria to apply for permanent residency even though they were, at that time, residing in Israel illegally. However, the decisions did not apply to the children of asylum seekers whose parents entered Israel illegally through the Egyptian border.

Indeed, many countries create mechanisms to regulate children’s status regardless of their parents’ status. This is required of any country which is signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child—including the State of Israel.

As required by Israel’s signing of the Convention, even under our restrictive immigration policy for anyone who is not Jewish or entitled to the Law of Return, the State must formulate fixed and clear criteria for children of asylum seekers to become eligible for legal status in the only country they know.

Read the full report here

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