Eritrean Asylum Seekers in Israel: Our Second Country is Bleeding
October 16, 2023 | by b1og.net
In the midst of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel find themselves facing yet another wave of displacement and uncertainty. With around 18,000 asylum seekers from Eritrea, these individuals had fled their home country to escape persecution and mandatory military conscription. However, the recent Hamas rocket attacks have caused significant destruction and turmoil in their communities. Many have been forced to relocate once again, their homes destroyed and their lives upended. This article sheds light on the experiences and challenges faced by these Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel, highlighting their determination to find safety and stability in their second country, which is now bleeding.
Background of Eritrean Asylum Seekers in Israel
Eritrean asylum seekers have sought refuge in Israel due to the dire conditions in their home country. Eritrea is known for its repressive regime, human rights abuses, and mandatory military conscription. Many Eritreans have chosen to flee their homeland in search of safety and a better life.
Reasons for Seeking Asylum in Israel
The primary reasons for Eritrean asylum seekers choosing Israel as their destination are proximity and the perception of relative safety compared to other neighboring countries. Israel, with its strong economy and democratic values, has been seen as a potential place to seek refuge.
Number of Asylum Seekers from Eritrea in Israel
According to estimates, there are approximately 18,000 Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel. This population has grown significantly over the years as more and more individuals flee persecution and repression in Eritrea.
Living Conditions and Challenges Faced by Eritrean Asylum Seekers
Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel often face significant challenges related to their living conditions. Many live in low-income neighborhoods with limited access to basic services such as healthcare and education. Language barriers and cultural differences further complicate integration into Israeli society.
Impact of Hamas Attack on Eritrean Asylum Seekers
The recent Hamas attack in southern Israel has had a profound impact on Eritrean asylum seekers. Many have been displaced once again, forced to leave their homes and seek safety in other cities. The attack has caused widespread damage to homes and properties, leaving many without shelter.
Displacement of Eritrean Asylum Seekers
Eritrean asylum seekers who were residing in the affected areas have been forced to flee their homes once again. This repeated displacement adds to the already difficult situation they face as refugees. Finding new housing and rebuilding their lives becomes even more challenging.
Damage to Homes and Properties
Eritrean asylum seekers who lost their homes and properties in the Hamas attack now face the daunting task of rebuilding their lives from scratch. The destruction of their homes not only creates a physical and emotional burden but also deepens their sense of vulnerability and instability.
Safety Concerns and Fear
The attack has instilled a sense of fear and insecurity among Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel. They worry about their personal safety and the safety of their families. The ongoing conflict and the potential for further violence exacerbate their anxieties and contribute to a sense of constant uncertainty.
Missing Asylum Seekers
In the aftermath of the attack, some Eritrean asylum seekers have gone missing. Refugee rights activists are working closely with Israeli authorities to determine the whereabouts of these individuals. The uncertainty surrounding their fate adds an additional layer of distress and concern for their loved ones.
Response from Eritrean Refugee Rights Activists
Eritrean refugee rights activists have been at the forefront of efforts to address the challenges faced by asylum seekers and advocate for their rights. In response to the recent crisis, these activists have been working tirelessly to determine the whereabouts of missing asylum seekers and collaborate with Israeli authorities.
Efforts to Determine the Whereabouts of Missing Asylum Seekers
Eritrean refugee rights activists, such as Berhane Negassi, have been actively engaged in efforts to locate missing asylum seekers. They are collaborating with Israeli security forces, police, army, and other government institutions to gather information and confirm the whereabouts of those who are unaccounted for.
Collaboration with Israeli Authorities
In times of crisis, collaboration between Eritrean refugee rights activists and Israeli authorities becomes crucial. By working together, they can share information, coordinate search efforts, and ensure the safety and well-being of asylum seekers. This collaboration highlights the importance of a unified approach in addressing the needs of vulnerable populations.
Advocacy for the Rights of Eritrean Asylum Seekers
Eritrean refugee rights activists continue to be vocal advocates for the rights of Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel. They strive to raise awareness about the challenges faced by this population and push for policies and practices that protect their rights to safety, security, and well-being.
Eritrean Asylum Seekers’ Sentiments and Calls for Action
Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel express a deep sense of belonging to the country and a desire to see it protected. They stand in solidarity with Israel while also demanding protection and security for themselves and their communities.
The Sense of Belonging to Israel
For many Eritrean asylum seekers, Israel has become their second home. They have established lives, built communities, and contributed to the country’s economy in various ways. Their sense of belonging to Israel is strong, and they consider themselves integral parts of Israeli society.
Expression of Solidarity with Israel
In the face of adversity, Eritrean asylum seekers express solidarity with Israel and its people. They recognize the shared experiences of displacement, loss, and the struggle for safety. They stand united with Israelis and call for peace and stability in the region.
Demand for Protection and Security
Given their vulnerable status, Eritrean asylum seekers emphasize the urgent need for protection and security. They call on the Israeli government and international community to prioritize their safety and well-being, especially in times of crisis. They seek assurance that their concerns will be addressed and their rights upheld.
Challenges faced by Eritrean Asylum Seekers in Israel
Eritrean asylum seekers face numerous challenges in their daily lives in Israel. These challenges are often compounded during times of conflict and crisis. From disrupted daily routines to struggles within the asylum system, they navigate a complex landscape in their search for safety and stability.
Disrupted Daily Life
The recent conflict and displacement have disrupted the daily lives of Eritrean asylum seekers. Schools have been shut down, and many employees have been unable to attend work. This instability creates additional hardships for this vulnerable population.
Struggles for Refugees in Israel
Life as a refugee in Israel can be challenging due to various factors, including limited job opportunities, language barriers, and cultural differences. Eritrean asylum seekers often face difficulty finding employment that matches their skills and qualifications, which hinders their integration and economic self-sufficiency.
Issues Faced by Vulnerable Groups
Within the Eritrean asylum seeker community, certain groups are particularly vulnerable and face unique challenges. These groups include troubled single mothers, individuals with health or economic problems, and those with limited access to support networks. Meeting the specific needs of these vulnerable groups is crucial for their well-being.
Journey of Eritrean Asylum Seekers to Israel
The journey of Eritrean asylum seekers to Israel is fraught with difficulties and dangers. They often take perilous routes through multiple transit countries, facing risks such as human trafficking, violence, and exploitation. The journey is physically and emotionally taxing, reflecting their desperate search for safety.
Routes and Transit Countries
Eritrean asylum seekers typically start their journey by crossing into neighboring countries such as Ethiopia or Sudan. From there, they travel through various transit countries, including Egypt and Libya, before making their way to Israel. Each leg of the journey presents its own set of challenges and dangers.
Difficulties and Dangers Along the Way
The journey to Israel is marked by numerous difficulties and dangers. Eritrean asylum seekers may face harsh conditions, including lack of food and water, extreme temperatures, and dangerous terrain. Additionally, they are vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, and extortion by smugglers and criminal networks.
Treatment in Sinai Peninsula
The Sinai Peninsula, in particular, has gained notoriety for its mistreatment of Eritrean migrants and asylum seekers. Many have been subjected to kidnapping, torture, and extortion in this region. Their ordeal in the Sinai Peninsula underscores the need for improved protection mechanisms and international cooperation.
Asylum Processing in Israel
Once Eritrean asylum seekers reach Israel, they often find themselves in a waiting period in holding centers. These holding centers serve as temporary shelters while their asylum requests are being processed. However, the lengthy waiting periods and uncertainty surrounding the processing create additional challenges for these individuals.
Waiting Periods in Holding Centers
Asylum seekers in Israel can face prolonged waiting periods in holding centers. These centers are designed to accommodate a certain number of individuals, but the demand often exceeds the capacity. As a result, Eritrean asylum seekers may spend months or even years in these facilities before their cases are adjudicated.
Government Policies and Practices
Israeli government policies and practices regarding asylum seekers have been a subject of debate and scrutiny. Some argue that the policies are restrictive and hinder access to protection for vulnerable populations. However, the Israeli government maintains that its policies are necessary for the country’s security and sovereignty.
Asylum Approval Rates
Asylum approval rates in Israel have historically been low. In 2020, less than 0.1% of asylum applications were approved. This poses considerable challenges for Eritrean asylum seekers, who have limited options for legal status and face the risk of deportation if their applications are denied.
Ongoing Conflict between Israel and Hamas
The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has far-reaching implications for Eritrean asylum seekers. The escalation of violence and insecurity in the region further compounds the challenges faced by this vulnerable population.
Background of the Conflict
The conflict between Israel and Hamas has deep-rooted political, historical, and territorial dimensions. It is characterized by intermittent periods of violence and strained relations. The recent escalation has once again highlighted the complex nature of the conflict and its impact on various communities, including Eritrean asylum seekers.
Implications for Eritrean Asylum Seekers
The conflict creates an environment of fear, instability, and violence, which directly affects Eritrean asylum seekers. Their safety and well-being are threatened as they navigate the consequences of the conflict and seek refuge from its impact. The conflict further exacerbates their vulnerabilities and hinders their ability to rebuild their lives.
Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza
The conflict has given rise to a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, with significant implications for the Eritrean asylum seeker community and other vulnerable populations. Access to basic services such as healthcare, clean water, and electricity has been severely limited, exacerbating the already dire living conditions in the region.
Humanitarian Assistance and Support for Eritrean Asylum Seekers
Various NGOs and refugee organizations play a critical role in providing humanitarian assistance and support to Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel. These organizations offer essential services such as access to healthcare, legal aid, psychosocial support, and trauma healing.
Role of NGOs and Refugee Organizations
NGOs and refugee organizations have been instrumental in addressing the immediate needs of Eritrean asylum seekers, such as food, shelter, and medical care. They also play a vital role in advocating for the rights of this population and raising awareness about their experiences and challenges.
Access to Basic Services
Ensuring access to basic services is crucial for the well-being of Eritrean asylum seekers. NGOs and refugee organizations work to bridge gaps in healthcare, education, and social services to ensure that asylum seekers can live with dignity and have their most essential needs met.
Psychosocial Support and Trauma Healing
Many Eritrean asylum seekers have experienced traumatic events, both in their home country and during their journey to Israel. NGOs and refugee organizations provide psychosocial support and trauma healing services to help individuals cope with their past experiences and build resilience for their future.
International Responsibility and Obligations
The international community, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), has a crucial role to play in ensuring the protection of Eritrean asylum seekers. Upholding international obligations and responsibilities is essential for addressing the needs and vulnerabilities of this population.
Protection of Asylum Seekers
International law recognizes the rights and protections afforded to asylum seekers. Upholding these rights is vital to ensure the safety, security, and well-being of Eritrean asylum seekers. It is the collective responsibility of the international community to provide assistance, support, and protection to those in need.
Role of UNHCR and International Community
The UNHCR plays a central role in coordinating responses and providing guidance on the protection of asylum seekers. The international community, alongside the UNHCR, must work together to address the challenges faced by Eritrean asylum seekers and ensure that their rights are protected.
Calls for Action and Accountability
In light of the challenges faced by Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel, there is a growing call for action and accountability. Advocacy efforts aim to raise awareness, mobilize support, and push for policies and practices that prioritize the safety, security, and well-being of Eritrean asylum seekers.
In conclusion, the plight of Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel is a complex issue that requires attention, support, and action from various stakeholders. The recent conflict and ongoing challenges highlight the vulnerabilities and risks faced by this population. Addressing their needs, ensuring their protection, and advocating for their rights are essential steps towards creating a more inclusive and supportive society.