“Through Hidden Corridors” Hotline’s new report reveals new trends in human trafficking which exploit the asylum system in Israel
“It’s no problem to find someone who’ll help you get to Israel. There are thousands of results online. I went to a company who offered to help me for $1,200. I was afraid they were conning me because this business is thriving. People promise a lot of things, but nothing comes of it.”
Since 2016 there has been a sharp rise in the number of Ukranians and Georgians applying for asylum in Israel. Data collected by the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants shows that Israeli entities, including human resource companies, are involved in this rise by spreading mis-information in the the Ukraine and Georgia about the possibility of working legally in Israel.
due to the backlog at the Population and Immigration Authority’s Refugee Status Determination Unit (RSD) in Tel Aviv, the processing of asylum applications can be veryslow. The dysfunctional asylum system is therefore being exploited to bypass the regulatory system for bringing migrant workers to Israel.
Hotline’s new report reveals new trends in human trafficking which exploit the asylum system in Israel
Based on basic data and information collected by HRM, companies, at least some of whom are Israeli, openly publish misleading information about the options for Ukrainian and Georgian citizens to get a work visa in Israel. For example: “In the center of the country, for Ukrainians, Russians and Moldovans with refugee status (blue paper) housing is provided free of charge, travel to work is also free of charge, salary of 5500 shekels straight to you, for those who are interested call via Viber or the Israeli number— “
Interviews that HRM representatives have conducted with Ukrainian citizens who were arrested and detained prior to deportation, confirm the conclusion that one of the reasons there has been such a wide-scale increase in the number of people from those countries coming to Israel, is the job ads that are published back in their country of origin. For example, A., who was imprisoned in the Givon detention center after being arrested with an allegedly forged appointment slip for an asylum interview, told a Hotline volunteer that back in the Ukraine he searched online for options to work abroad and found many sites offering work in Israel. He chose one called – Tov Rabota V’Israeli and made contact with them through an intermediary. He sent the intermediary documents by email, and she explained to him what he should say upon arrival at the airport in Israel. She instructed him to delete all correspondence relating to coming to Israel and correspondence with the agency and friends, and to say that he came to Israel to pray for the success of his business. After getting into the country he called the intermediary and she told him that she had been unable to get hold of his “agent”. In the meantime, she told him he had to buy a “tourist package”. After the trip A. met his ‘agent’ who took an extra payment of $550 for taking care of his papers. A. was sent by the agency to submit an asylum application at the RSD Unit at 53 Salame Street, Tel Aviv. After waiting in line for a full day, he received an appointment slip for a future date to submit an asylum application. When he came to submit the application at the pre-arranged time, he was told that the appointment was forged and was arrested, taken into custody and most probably deported.
On August 11, 2017, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) sent a letter to HRM detailed the case of V.P., a Ukrainian citizen who was identified as a victim of slavery after being deported from Israel. V.P. was recruited by a Ukrainian manpower company and promised work in Israel. He paid $800 for the service and received guidance on how to pass border control at Ben-Gurion airport. After passing border control, two Israelis of Ukrainian origin were waiting for him and took him to an apartment where they housed him, and also provided him with documents that were later discovered to be forged. They charged him $400 in addition to the amount he paid in Ukraine. From the apartment he was taken to a factory where he worked with 15 other Ukrainians between 12 to 15 hours a day and was paid $600 for the whole month during which he worked there. According to him, the factory was heavily guarded and they were forbidden to leave the premises except to be transported back to their accommodation. They were also subject to threats that they would be turned over to the authorities. V.P. was arrested and deported from Israel after an inspection by the authorities at the factory during which he discovered that the documents given to them were forged.
HRM calls on PIBA and enforcement agencies to take legal action against those bodies profiteering from bringing workers in ‘by the back door’ while exploiting the already dysfunctional asylum system of the State of Israel. The Hotline objects to the damage this does to access to the asylum system and insists that the State of Israel has a duty to conduct a thorough review of the applications, even when they suspect the asylum system is being exploited.