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Economic Migrants orAsylum Seekers?

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Israel, one of the initiators and first signatories of the 1951 Refugee Convention, does not want to assist the Sudanese and Eritrean refugees who have fled to it in their search for asylum.
This report presents facts and figures related to Israel’s policies and activities to purge itself of these “nonremoveable foreigners,” from "hot returns" to deportation:

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Economic Migrants orAsylum Seekers?

  1. 1. Economic Migrants orAsylum Seekers? Nonremovable Foreigners in Israel Israel. January 2018
  2. 2. Israel, one of the initiators and first signatories of the 1951 Refugee Convention, does not want to assist the Sudanese and Eritrean refugees who have fled to it in their search for asylum. This report presents facts and figures related to Israel’s policies and activities to purge itself of these “nonremoveable foreigners,” from "hot returns" to deportation: Table of Contents Refugees (The 1951 convention, article 33) Infiltrators (Israeli legislation, Sudan and Eritrea, torture camps in the Sinai) Population Statistics Asylum Requests Deportation(Thequietdeportation,thedeportation to Sudan, the fate of the deportees) Israeli Violations of International Law Financial Statistics Conclusion 3 9 15 19 23 30 31 34 Research: Gilad Liberman, Esty Segal, Translation: Gilad Liberman, English editing: Heidi J. Gleit , Editing and design: Esty Segal (Infoesty)
  3. 3. 3 1 A well-founded fear of being persecuted Who is a Refugee? Sudanese and Eritreans around the Globe and in Israel (Photo: from the web)
  4. 4. UNHCR the UN Refugee Agency 4 UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) was established by UN General Assembly Resolution 319 (IV) in December 1949 in the aftermath of World War II, which turned million of Europeans into refugees and displaced persons. The Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees m was approved, setting criteria for d determining who is a refugee. At least three Jewish legal experts, some of whom were Holocaust survivors, played a major role in drafting the convention. (For more details, click here) The convention went into effect on April 24, 1954. On October 1, 1954, Israel became one of the first states to sign the convention. On June 14, 1968, Israel was one of the first states to sign the 1967 protocol, which removed the time and geographic limits on the definition of a refugee. However, Israel never passed legislation of its own to anchor the convention in Israeli law. December 1949 July 1951 October 1954 The Convention
  5. 5. 5 Article 33 of the convention prohibits expulsion or return ("refoulement") of refugees: "No Contracting State shall expel or return (‘refouler;’) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.” Article 33 also applies to an asylum seeker who enters a country illegally in the search for refuge. (To read the convention, click here) Who is a Refugee? Article 1 of the convention, as amended by the 1967 protocol, defines a refugee as: "A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it." Refugees' Rights
  6. 6. 6 The World Recognizes Sudanese and Eritreans as Refugees (To read the UN report, click here) Average Recognition Rates Worldwide of Asylum Requests in 2016 for Refugee statusSubsidiary protectionRefugee statusSubsidiary protection Eritreans Sudanese
  7. 7. 13,784 11 7 have been granted refugee status In Israel A total of Sudanese and Eritreans have applied for asylum to date
  8. 8. 8 2015 in Israel and Europe Recognition rates for Eritreans "Today the state of the Jews exists. We have not forgotten. We shall act humanely. We will bringthesedesperatepersons, and give them shelter and refuge." In June 1977, Menachem Begin’s first official decision as prime minister was to accept 64 Vietnamese refugees: )Data and graphics courtesy of Amnesty International( 1977 PM Begin (For details, click here) Sweden 89.9% Belgium 88.7% Holland 92.5% Germany 91.1% Israel Italy 87.3% France 56.9% Greece 64.3% UK 44% Switzerland 38.6%
  9. 9. 2 9 Legislation Sudan and Eritrea Sinai Torture Camps (Photo: Yair Meyuhas) Who are we calling an "infiltrator" and why?
  10. 10. 10 "Since the early 1990s, the number of foreigners residing in Israel illegally has risen. This group includes foreign workers who entered Israel legally and did not leave when their work visa expired; people who entered with a tourist visa and did not leave when their tourist visa expired; and foreigners who did not enter Israel via the official border crossings. In June 2013, these groups came to a total of 230,000 people, 54,000 of whom are nonremoveable. This report considers the nonremoveable foreigners, who mainly hail from Eritrea and Sudan.” According to the UN Refugee Agency, such people should be assigned a label that indicates that they had no choice but to flee their country and cannot return to it, such as ‘asylum seekers’ or “people in a refugee-like situation.” (From the Israeli State Comptroller’s Report, 2013) Intro: Nonremovable Foreigners Corpses of ethnic cleansing victims in Darfur (Photo: from the web)
  11. 11. 11 92% of the "infiltrators" hail from Sudan and Eritrea - why? Sudan In Sudan, the Khartoum regime is perpetrating genocide and ethnic cleansing. The victims are members of the non-Arab tribes residing in western Sudan (Darfur) and southern Sudan (Nuba mountains and the Blue Nile region). The total number of Sudanese citizens who fled their country due to genocide, entered Israel by crossing the Israeli-Egyptian border in the Sinai, and remain in Israel today: 7,869. Eritrea lacks a legal system, has never held an election, and forces all citizens to perform military service, which is unlike military service in any other country, for an unlimited time period. This military service basically is forced labor without pay. Recruits perform physically demanding manual labor such as paving roads, mining, agriculture, etc. Those evading the army are considered traitors. If the Eritrean authorities catch them, they are harshly tortured. Some evaders are executed or tortured to death. As a result, every month around 4,000 Eritreans flee the country, mainly to escape military service. The total number of Eritrean citizens who fled their country, entered Israel by crossing the Israeli-Egyptian border in the Sinai, and remain in Israel today: 27,494. (For more details, click here) Eritrea The State of Israel knows it cannot deport people fleeing Sudan and Eritrea, but was worried by the number of people from these countries who arrived in Israel. The Knesset (the Israeli parliament) therefore amended legislation from the 1950s which originally was intended to prevent members of terror organizations from illegally entering Israel to execute acts of terror against Israeli civilians. The amendment redefines an "infiltrator" as anyone who enters Israel at a point that is not an official border crossing, without differentiating between people who pose a security threat, refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants. The stated goal of this amendment is to deter additional refugees and asylum seekers from coming to Israel by the draconian punishment, detention, and deportation of refugees and asylum seekers already in Israel. Infiltrators
  12. 12. 12 2011 Then-Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon: Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon’s explanation to the Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers on 31.11.2011 (For the Hebrew protocol of the hearing, click here) Eritreaisknownintheinternational community as a country that does not safeguard human rights and anyone who returns there is in danger, including danger of death, and thus we are much more careful here. The idea of transferring them to third-party countries has been raised. The Foreign Ministry investigated this option.The outcome is that this cannot be done. The fence will provide a solution, which also accords with UN policy, because it will bar those poor refugees that have to cross the entire Sahara and Sinai desert, and are vulnerable to terrible risks - you don't know what they do to them there...
  13. 13. 13 On the Way: Sinai Torture Camps Approximately 7,000 victims of Sinai torture camps live in Israel today The asylum seekers’ journey starts with a dangerous escape from their countries. Those caught at the Eritrean border are imprisoned or executed. Those who manage to escape have no choice but to pay thousands of dollars to human traffickers. The journey can take months to complete. Often, the journey ends in an Egyptian prison or a torture camp operated by one of the criminal gangs in the Sinai desert. Since 2009, women have been arriving in these torture camps. The women are raped by the human traffickers who hold them prisoner in Sinai. In early 2010, testimony began to appear from male asylum seekers who were tortured harsly in these camps in order to extort ransom from their families. So far, the Physicians for Human Rights organization has collected around 1,000 testimonies from torture survivors, most of whom are Eritrean asylum seekers. (For details, click here) They didn’t plan to come to Israel - some were kidnapped by traffickers in Africa after fleeing Eritrea About 10 survivors of torture camps are being imprisoned in Israel in Holot and Saharonim for an unlimited period Many of those who were released from or managed to escape the camps are imprisoned and tortured by the Egyptian police stations The Sinai torture camps rely on kidnapping Eritreans from refugee camp in Sudan The Israel Police has recognized only a small number of the survivors as victims of human trafficking and slavery (Photo: Sigal Rozen)
  14. 14. 14 ‫״‬ ‫״‬ Testimony a female Eritrean asylum seeker gave before the court in Israel’s Saharonim prison. (To read additional testimony, click here) I didn't plan to go to Israel. I fled from military service in Eritrea and planned to go to Sudan. Bedouin traffickers kidnapped me on the Eritrean-Sudanese border. They brought me to Sinai by car. I was forced to pay a very large amount of money to be released. I was tortured physically and sexually. The traffickers chained both of my legs with metal shackles. They blindfolded me so I did not see daylight for five months. I was beaten with a stick and shoes. They beat my head, back, and entire body. They also dripped melted plastic on my skin, which left scars. I suffered from hunger and thirst. They only gave us food once a day - bread.
  15. 15. 15 3 (Photo: Yair Meyuhas) All of Africa Will Come Here How many "Infiltrators" Really Live Here? Facts and Figures
  16. 16. 16 37,288 Asylum seekers in Israel in 2017 out of a total Israeli population of 8,680,000 men and women in 2017. (Data from the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority’s January 2018 report. To read the Hebrew- language report, click here [No English version]) 4.2 asylum seekers per 1,000 Israelis
  17. 17. 17 14,920 28,620 14,920 of the asylum seekers live in Tel Aviv In 2017, asylum seekers made up 3% of Tel Aviv’s population, which numbered 438,818 people. How to create a problem: From the moment that people fleeing Eritrea and Sudan began crossing Israel’s border in the south, the State of Israel imprisoned them in southern Israel for varying periods of time and then put them on buses to the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station. In other words, the State of Israel directed them to the impoverished neighborhoods in south Tel Aviv. So a struggling population (which needed the government’s assistance, according to the State Comptroller’s report of 2013 - click here to read it) made up of people who had fled their homes and survived a harrowing journey that took them from the Sinai torture camps to an Israeli prison, found itself sharing space with another struggling population which had been neglected for generations. The result - additional hardships for Tel Aviv’s southern neighborhoods. The asylum seekers (as well as foreign workers) are concentrated largely in district 8 of Tel Aviv, mainly in the Neve Sha’anan, Shapira, and Kiryat Shalom neighborhoods. This area has been neglected for generations. District 8 is home to some 28,620 Israelis in addition to the asylum seekers and foreign workers. Every third resident in this district is an asylum seeker.(for municipal population statistics, click here) 2017 Composition of South Tel Aviv’s Population:Israelis Asylum seekers
  18. 18. 18 130,807 37,288 According to Israeli Population and Immigration Authority data, in 2017, there were: 18,267 illegal foreign workers 74,000 people who entered the country as tourists and did not renew their expired tourist visa (70% from the FSU) 37,288 nonremoveable foreigners (from Sudan and Eritrea) In 2017 people were residing in Israel illegally Were from Sudan and Eritrea only In 2016, asylum requests from Georgia and Ukraine skyrocketed. Israeli human-resource agencies apparently played a role in this, providing false information regarding the possibility of working legally in Israel. The human-resource agencies charge very high fees and may also profit from selling forged documents. Their activities are turning out to be a new channel for human trafficking.
  19. 19. 19 4 Method for preventing submission of asylum requests. 13,784 Sudanese and Eritreans submitted asylum requests Israel rejects them out of hand or ignores them.
  20. 20. 2011 2013 1 2012 2014 2016 2017 20 In September 2017, the government acknowledged the problem, but refused to accept applications by any other means. Can’t deport them. Don’t want to accept them. So what do you do? Israel knows that if it evaluates the asylum applications in accordance with international law, it will have to recognize a high percent of the asylum seekers as refugees. To avoid that, Israel: Hinder the submission of the requests in various ways. Preventing Sudanese and Eritreans from submitting asylum applications: The RSD unit initially prevents this with the claim that they have been granted "temporary protection" Preventing detainees at Holot from applying: The prison guards claim they do not have the application forms Overburdened system cannot handle new submissions: Until August 2016, applications could only be submitted in person at an office on Salame Street in Tel Aviv from 8:30 to 12:30 each morning. Only a few people were permitted to enter each day and long lines formed outside the office. Asylum seekers waited in line day after day, but did not succeed to submit their application. Anyone who manage to submit an application either: 1. Receives no response for years or 2. Is rejected The results: Queuing to get a number for another queue Starting November 2016, those allowed in to submit their application on a given day were selected from 7:00 to 8:00 in the morning Starting January 2017, it simply is not possible to submit an asylum application No entrance Asylum application forms must be submitted in person and not by mail, email, or fax:
  21. 21. 21 2 (To read the Hebrew-language protocol from the Knesset discussion, click here) Rejecting or Ignoring Asylum Applications (For more details, click here) (For more details, click here)
  22. 22. 22 I was a minister in the government and there is a very clear policy 2016 Meir Cohen, former Israeli welfare and social services minister: (From the Knesset’s Labor, Welfare, and Health Committee meeting on 29.2.2016. To read the Hebrew protocol, click here) of ignoring these requests. Anyone who comes from Eritrea is accepted as a refugee anywhere (worldwide), but here they don't do that. The unstated policy dictated from above is not to recognize these people and to leave these 43,000 people in limbo. We all know very well what's happening.
  23. 23. 23 5 The Quiet Deportation The Deportation to Sudan What Happens in the "Third-Party Country" We Don't Send Them to Die We Send Them to Rwanda Testimony from the mobile phone camera of an asylum seeker who was “voluntarily” deported. (Photo: Jacky Adams Getty)
  24. 24. 24 The Quiet ("Voluntary") Deportation Since Israel cannot deport the "nonremoveable foreigners," it finds numerous way to make their lives miserable so they'll agree to deportation (detention, draconian punishment, taxation, incitement, etc). This "voluntary" deportation has been happening since 2011. In an official response to human-rights activists, PIBA declared that as of August 2, 2015, 9,944 asylum seekers had "voluntarily returned" to: Sudan - 4,608 Eritrea - 1,059 Third-party countries - 2,688* But returning to Sudan and Eritrea is risking their lives, so how and why were they returned to there? Were they deceived? *The data that PIBA provided to the activists in accordance with the freedom of information legislation differs from the data it provided to the Ha’aretz newspaper. (to the article - here)
  25. 25. 25 Third- party Country September 2017 Sudanese foreign minister: "Being in Israel is a crime" As a result, the Sudanese regime persecutes anyone returning to Sudan from Israel 2013 Israel refoules some 1,000 asylum seekers to Sudan via another country (mainly Jordan) 2013-2014 Media reports deportation of Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers from Israel to Rwanda and UgandaJanuary 5, 2018 Rwanda also denies having any such agreement with Israel 2013-2018 Uganda denies having any agreement with Israel regarding refugees Absolutely Not Voluntary Over 800 people have been refouled to Sudan directly from Israeli prisons. They were imprisoned upon entering Israel and did not enjoy a single day of freedom in Israel.
  26. 26. 26 (Graphics courtesy of Ha’aretz, to read more click here) Rwanda - The "Third Country" Lie: 2017: Testimony of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers shows that after their "voluntary" departure to Rwanda they do not enjoy the safety there that the State of Israel promised them. Instead, within days they are forced to agree to be smuggled out of Rwanda to Uganda, where they are delivered directly into the hands of human traffickers. Left without legal status or documents, they are at risk of refoulement and have no choice but to set out on the life-threatening journey to Europe, despite the risks posed by ISIS, human traffickers and torturers in Libya, and the Mediterranean Sea. (To read more, click here)
  27. 27. 27 1. The Israeli Ministry of Interior left medicine and medical equipment of "voluntary deportees" in the airport in Israel instead of sending it to Sudan with them. The result: The death of infants, children, and adults who were deported. 2. During the first year, at least 22 of the deportees died. 3. On December 15, 2013, less than two years after the deportation, civil war erupted in South Sudan. Within one year, the number of displaced persons reached 1.9 million and 7 million people are at risk due to famine and disease. The UN recommends to Israel that it not deport asylum seekers to South Sudan. The Deportation to South Sudan 2012: Interior Minister Eli Yishai jumps at the opportunity to deport South Sudanese asylum seekers when South Sudan declares independence and is removed from the UN list of dangerous countries. In June 2012, Judge Yigal Marzel approves the deportation, despite evidence of instability, epidemics, and famine in the new state, and the deportation starts. Some 2,500 men, women, and children who lived in Israel peacefully for years are deported to unknown and dangerous fate. Then the news arrived: 4. Dr. Rami Gudovitch, who manages a school for the deported children in Kampala, reports that over 60 deportees have died. 5. Account after account appears of deportees from Israel who lost their lives in the civil war in South Sudan. (Photo: Dan Haimovich)
  28. 28. 28 Corpses of asylum seekers whose search for refuge ended in the Libyan desert. (Photo: An asylum seeker in Libya) Asylum seekers in Arad prior to their deportation to South Sudan.
  29. 29. 29 2012 Harel Locker, Director General of the Pm’s Office: (From an interview with Israel Radio) “Most of the infiltrators are from Sudan and Eritrea, countries we cannot deport people to since their lives would be at risk there and Israel is a signatory to international conventions. There are two conditions for removing infiltrators: First, a state must agree to accept them, and second, there's no threat to their lives there. We cannot land airplanes in these two countries and violate their sovereignty. Sudan is also an enemy country... We need a country that will agree to accept them, and that country also must guarantee their safety."
  30. 30. 30 Israel Violates Interna- tional Law: (To read the convention, click here.) 1. Imprisonment in Holot and Saharonim violates the convention: “The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of article i, enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence." 2. The "Deposit" law and punitory fines imposed on employers of refugees violate the convention: "The Contracting States shall not impose upon refugees duties, charges or taxes, of any description whatsoever, other or higher than those which are or may be levied on their nationals in similar situations." 3. Hindering submission of asylum applications 4. Not evaluating asylum requests 5. Refoulement is the most severe violation of the convention: "No Contracting State shall expel or return ("refouler") a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion."
  31. 31. 31 6 Financial Statistics on the Saharonim and Holot Detention Centers How Much Does this Cost Israeli Taxpayers? (Photo: Activestills)
  32. 32. 32 1,247,689,500 Instead of addressing the problems in south Tel Aviv and fulfilling the commitments it made to asylum seekers upon signing the convention, the Israeli government decided to build detention centers for asylum seekers. How much did this undertaking cost? It's hard to find the information. Some data regarding the expenses can be derived from the Knesset research center (for details, click here) and from the state’s 2015 budget (for details, click here). We could not find all of the data regarding the expenses involved in operating Saharonim. We also were unable to obtain the budget for Saharonim and Holot in 2017, so we used the average of the previous four years. Saharonim and Holot Detention Centers The Financial Cost Holot Saharonim Buried in the Negev Just think what could have been achieved with this money... NIS
  33. 33. 33 The deportation to South Sudan (Photo: Dan Haimovich) How Much Will the Deportation Cost? Just think of what could have been achieved with this money to assist south Tel Aviv and the asylum seekers 2016 Some 4,500 asylum seekers were "voluntarily" deported at a cost of: 2018 The projected expense of deporting 10,000 asylum seekers, including a $3,500 incentive grant to each deportee and $5,000 to the "third country," totals: (The $5,000 payment per person to the “third country” comes from unofficial sources and has not been confirmed. The 10,000 comes from a questionable statement released by a Rwandan minister.) The Population, Immigration and Borders Authority estimates that it will cost: 68 millionNIS 85 million$ 300 millionNIS
  34. 34. 34 (Photo: Dan Haimovich) Conclusion: 1. The statements by the director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, Harel Locker (2011), and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon (2012) demonstrate that the Israeli government is fully aware of the human-rights abuses in Sudan and Eritrea and of its obligations to asylum seekers yet consciously chooses to make their lives miserable, as Welfare and Social Services Minister Meir Cohen declared (2016). 2. Israel consciously breaks international law. The Israeli minister of interior has consistently persecuted the Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers, from Eli Yishai, who zealously deported people to South Sudan without even sending their medications, to Gideon Saar, Gilad Erdan, Silvan Shalom and now Arieh Deri. 3. The Israeli government provided "voluntary" deportees with fake passports (for details, click here) and when deportees arrived in the "third-party countries," their documents were systematically taken from them, leaving them without any valid documents and completely at the mercy of traffickers. This raises the suspicion that Israeli officials are part of the trafficking chain. 4. The great efforts to prevent asylum seekers from working in Israel and the deportation have an economic rationale - there are those who profit directly from this: The human-resource agencies have close ties to a number of Knesset members and ministers. Each asylum seeker that is deported will be replaced by a foreign worker that the agencies will earn a commission for importing. This can be seen clearly in Eilat, where 6,000 asylum seekers once were employed in the hotel industry. Today only 1,800 asylum seekers work in Eilat and Jordanians have replaced them (for details, click here). The Israeli Ministry of Tourism recently proposed that hotels import workers from the Philippines to replace the deported African asylum seekers (for details, click here).