Eritrean Asylum Seekers in Israel: Working to Confirm the Whereabouts of Missing Individuals
October 16, 2023 | by b1og.net
The article discusses the challenges faced by Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel in the midst of the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas. These asylum seekers have already fled persecution and compulsory military conscription in their home country, seeking safety and a new life in Israel. However, the recent attack by Hamas has once again displaced them, forcing them to relocate and leaving them unsure of the whereabouts of their fellow asylum seekers. Despite the difficulties they face, these Eritrean asylum seekers are determined to work with Israeli authorities to confirm the safety of their community and to ensure that their second country does not continue to suffer.
Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel
Eritrean asylum seekers have sought refuge in Israel due to the dire conditions and political repression in their native country of Eritrea in East Africa. It is estimated that around 18,000 Eritrean asylum seekers currently reside in Israel. These individuals have fled from persecution and compulsory military conscription in Eritrea, which is known as one of the world’s most repressive countries. Seeking safety in Israel, they have hoped for a better life and the opportunity to rebuild their futures.
Reasons for fleeing Eritrea
The reasons for Eritreans seeking asylum in Israel are deeply rooted in the political and social situation in their home country. Eritrea has been under the leadership of President Isaias Afewerki since it gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993. Afewerki’s government has been criticized for its lack of democracy, human rights abuses, and mandatory military conscription that extends indefinitely. Many Eritreans who flee the country cite political repression, forced labor, limited freedom of expression, and the fear of persecution as their reasons for seeking asylum elsewhere.
Displacement following Hamas’s attack
In addition to the challenges faced by Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel, they have recently experienced further displacement due to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. The latest attack by Hamas has caused extensive damage to homes and infrastructure, leaving many Eritrean asylum seekers without a place to live. The attack has also disrupted the lives of countless individuals and communities, leading to uncertainty and anxiety among the Eritrean population in Israel.
Experiences of Displacement
Impact of the Hamas attack on Eritrean asylum seekers
The Hamas attack has had a severe impact on Eritrean asylum seekers living in Israel. Their already precarious situation has been further exacerbated by the destruction of their homes and the subsequent displacement. These individuals have already experienced trauma in their home country and have sought refuge in Israel as a place of safety and hope. The attack has shattered their sense of stability and security, leaving them vulnerable to further hardship and uncertainty.
Damage to homes and displacement
Many Eritrean asylum seekers have had their homes completely destroyed as a result of the Hamas attack. The rockets launched by Hamas have caused widespread devastation and reduced entire neighborhoods to rubble. The loss of their homes has forced these asylum seekers to seek shelter elsewhere, adding to the challenges they face in their daily lives. Coming from a background of displacement and seeking asylum, losing their homes in Israel has only added to their sense of instability and insecurity.
Relocating to safer cities
In the face of the violence and destruction caused by the Hamas attack, Eritrean asylum seekers have been forced to relocate to safer cities within Israel. This has been a difficult and distressing process, as they have had to leave behind their communities, friends, and familiar surroundings. Relocating to a new city brings with it a whole new set of challenges, including finding accommodation, employment, and establishing a support network. The ordeal of displacement has compounded the difficulties already faced by Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel.
Working to Confirm Whereabouts
Concerns about missing asylum seekers
In the wake of the Hamas attack, there have been concerns about the whereabouts of Eritrean asylum seekers. As the violence and destruction unfolded, it became increasingly challenging to track and account for all individuals in the Eritrean community. Many asylum seekers became separated from their families and communities, leading to anxiety and worry regarding their safety and well-being. The uncertainty surrounding their whereabouts has exacerbated the distress experienced by Eritrean asylum seekers and their loved ones.
Collaboration with Israeli security forces
Efforts have been made to collaborate with Israeli security forces, including the police and army, to confirm the whereabouts of missing Eritrean asylum seekers. Recognizing the urgency and importance of locating individuals in the aftermath of the attack, the Eritrean community and their advocates have worked hand-in-hand with Israeli authorities to ensure a coordinated response. This collaboration has been vital in the search for missing asylum seekers and has helped provide some reassurance to their families and friends.
Efforts to determine their whereabouts
Organizations such as the Eritrean New Hope Organization have been at the forefront of efforts to determine the whereabouts of missing asylum seekers. Working closely with Israeli security forces, these organizations have utilized a variety of strategies to locate individuals and reunite them with their families. From conducting search operations to gathering information from community members, these efforts have played a crucial role in confirming the safety and well-being of Eritrean asylum seekers affected by the conflict.
Challenges Faced by Eritrean Asylum Seekers
Life struggles in Israel
Life as an Eritrean asylum seeker in Israel comes with its own set of challenges and hardships. These individuals face numerous obstacles in their daily lives, including limited access to employment, housing, and healthcare. The language barrier and cultural differences further complicate matters, making it difficult for them to integrate into Israeli society. The recent violence and displacement caused by the Hamas attack have only worsened these challenges, pushing Eritrean asylum seekers to the brink of desperation.
Impact on refugees, particularly single mothers
The impact of the ongoing conflict and displacement is particularly pronounced among Eritrean asylum seekers who are single mothers. These women not only have to navigate the challenges of being refugees but also the added burden of taking care of their children alone. Many of them lack adequate financial resources, making it challenging to provide for their children’s basic needs. The trauma of the conflict and displacement further compounds the difficulties faced by single mothers, leaving them in a vulnerable and precarious position.
Health and economic challenges
Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel face significant health and economic challenges. Limited access to healthcare services and the high cost of medical treatment compound their already vulnerable situation. Without access to stable and lawful employment, many asylum seekers struggle to make ends meet and rely on meager support from aid organizations. These economic challenges further perpetuate a cycle of poverty and dependence, making it even more difficult for Eritrean asylum seekers to rebuild their lives and achieve self-sufficiency.
Arrival and Asylum Process in Israel
Eritrean and Sudanese migration to Israel
The arrival of Eritreans and Sudanese individuals in Israel began in 2006 when a significant number of migrants crossed the border from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Fleeing conflict, repression, and economic hardships in their home countries, they sought refuge and a chance at a better life in Israel. Since then, the influx of Eritrean and Sudanese migrants has posed significant challenges to Israeli authorities, who have struggled to effectively manage and process asylum requests.
Holding centers and asylum requests
Upon entering Israel, many Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers are placed in holding centers within the country. These centers act as temporary accommodations while their asylum requests are being processed by the Israeli government. However, the living conditions in these centers have often been criticized for their overcrowding, lack of adequate facilities, and limited access to basic services. Asylum seekers may spend an extended period in these centers while awaiting a decision on their asylum claims.
Low asylum approval rates
Israel has maintained a low rate of asylum approval for Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers, with less than 0.1% of applications granted in 2020. This has created a sense of uncertainty and vulnerability among the Eritrean asylum seeker community in Israel. The limited chances of receiving asylum have contributed to the challenges faced by Eritreans in the country, as they navigate life with the constant fear of deportation and the risk of returning to the dangerous conditions they initially fled from.
Continuing Conflict between Israel and Hamas
Ongoing war and its impact
The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has had severe consequences for both Israelis and Palestinians. The violence and destruction have led to widespread casualties, displacement, and the loss of homes and livelihoods. The conflict has further strained the already fragile relationship between Israel and the Palestinian territories, exacerbating tensions and perpetuating a cycle of violence and suffering.
Casualties and displacement in Gaza
The Israeli retaliatory bombing campaign in the Gaza Strip has resulted in a significant number of casualties and widespread displacement. More than 2,300 people have been killed, including a large number of civilians, and countless others have been injured. Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to flee their homes and seek safety in overcrowded shelters or wherever they can find refuge. The displacement has created a humanitarian crisis, with limited access to essential services and an uncertain future for those affected.
Evacuation warnings and fleeing Palestinians
In the midst of the conflict, Israel has issued evacuation warnings to Palestinians living in north Gaza, urging them to move to safer areas in the south. Thousands of Palestinians have been forced to flee their homes, either by vehicle or on foot, seeking shelter and safety. The displacement of Palestinians adds to the already dire situation on the ground and further exacerbates the challenges faced by the affected population.
Advocacy for Eritrean Asylum Seekers
Eritreans’ sentiment towards Israel
Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel have expressed a strong sentiment of attachment to their adopted country. For many, Israel represents a place of hope and opportunity, offering protection and a chance to rebuild their lives. Despite the challenges they face, Eritreans often view Israel as their “second country” and are deeply concerned about the ongoing conflict and its impact on their safety and well-being.
Demand for action to protect their second country
The Eritrean community, along with refugee rights activists, has been vocal in demanding action to protect their second country, Israel. They have urged the Israeli government to prioritize the safety and well-being of all individuals, including asylum seekers and refugees, and to take steps to mitigate the impact of the conflict on vulnerable populations. Eritrean asylum seekers have called for increased support and resources to be allocated to those affected by the violence and displacement.
The role of Eritrean refugee rights activists
Eritrean refugee rights activists in Israel and around the world play a crucial role in advocating for the rights and well-being of Eritrean asylum seekers. These activists work tirelessly to raise awareness about the challenges faced by Eritrean refugees, mobilize support, and push for policy changes that prioritize the protection and inclusion of this vulnerable population. Their efforts are instrumental in highlighting the unique experiences and needs of Eritreans in Israel and ensuring that their voices are heard.
Disruption of Daily Life in Israel
Impact of the surprise attack
The surprise attack by Hamas has had a significant impact on daily life in Israel. The sudden escalation of violence and destruction has shaken communities and disrupted normalcy. Fear and anxiety have permeated every aspect of life, leaving individuals and families feeling vulnerable and uncertain about the future. The attack has forced many to alter their routines, restrict their movements, and prioritize their safety above all else.
School closures and work restrictions
As a result of the conflict, schools have been forced to shut down in affected areas, depriving children of their education and sense of stability. This disruption has long-term implications for their development and well-being. Additionally, many employees have been ordered not to attend work for their own safety, further exacerbating economic challenges and job insecurity for individuals and families.
Challenges faced by the general population
The general population in Israel also faces a range of challenges as a result of the ongoing conflict. The threat of rocket attacks, the need to seek shelter, and the constant fear of violence have taken a toll on the mental and emotional well-being of individuals. Communities have been disrupted, businesses have suffered financial losses, and the overall sense of security and stability has been severely undermined. The conflict has tested the resilience and strength of the Israeli population as they navigate these unprecedented challenges.
Long-term Effects and Solutions
Psychological and socio-economic consequences
The long-term effects of the conflict and displacement experienced by Eritrean asylum seekers and the wider population in Israel are likely to be profound. Individuals who have endured trauma and loss may experience lasting psychological impacts that require support and mental health services. The socio-economic consequences of the conflict, including job losses and financial instability, may deepen inequalities and hinder the recovery and rebuilding process for affected communities.
Integration challenges for Eritrean asylum seekers
The ongoing conflict further compounds the integration challenges faced by Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel. These individuals already face substantial barriers to integration, including language barriers, limited access to education and healthcare, and discrimination. The destruction of their homes and the disruption of their lives only exacerbate these challenges, making it more difficult for them to establish stable and secure futures in their adopted country.
Possible strategies for addressing the situation
Addressing the challenges faced by Eritrean asylum seekers and the wider population in Israel requires a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach. This includes prioritizing the safety and well-being of all individuals affected by the conflict, regardless of their immigration status. Providing access to mental health services, supporting economic recovery and job creation, and investing in education and skills training are critical steps towards fostering resilience and long-term stability for Eritrean asylum seekers and the wider population.
History of Eritrean Asylum Seekers in Israel
Arrival of Eritreans in 2006
The arrival of Eritrean asylum seekers in Israel dates back to 2006 when a significant number of migrants crossed the border from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. The political and social situation in Eritrea, coupled with economic hardships, forced many Eritreans to undertake dangerous journeys in search of safety and a better life. These individuals sought refuge in Israel, hoping to find solace and the opportunity to rebuild their lives.
Journey through Sinai Peninsula
The journey of Eritrean asylum seekers to Israel often involves traversing the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. This route, known for its dangers and human rights abuses, poses significant risks to individuals seeking safety. Many Eritreans fall victim to human traffickers and face violence, extortion, and exploitation along the way. The journey through the Sinai Peninsula is marked by hardship and uncertainty, with individuals enduring treacherous conditions as they make their way towards Israel.
Waiting in desert holding centers
Upon entering Israel, many Eritrean asylum seekers find themselves in desert holding centers, where they await the processing of their asylum requests. These centers act as temporary accommodations, offering shelter and basic services while individuals navigate the asylum process. However, the conditions in these centers have often been criticized for their overcrowding, limited facilities, and inadequate support. Asylum seekers may spend an extended period in these centers, unsure of their future and waiting for a decision on their asylum claims.