Jamal, a survivor of genocide from the Darfur region in Sudan, arrived in Israel during the year of 2008 after four harsh years of migration, violence, hunger and persecution in the search after an asylum. Since he arrived in Israel, he has filed two requests to be recognized as a refugee, and to this day, those haven’t been answered. He worked for around five years in Eilat, and was imprisoned in “Holot” for a year and half until he was released due to a High Court of Justice order. Today he works in cleaning a hotel in Hertzliya, where he lives. With his small salary of 5,000 NIS per month, Jamal supports both himself and his cousin – a survivor of the Darfur genocide as well, which due to an illness cannot work but is not eligible for welfare services either.
The new deposit fund measure states that a fifth of Jamal’s wage will be transferred to a deposit which he can supposedly withdraw when he leaves Israel. Despite the dramatic hardship this decree is putting on his ability to live with dignity, Jamal is saying loud and clear what should already be obvious: he cannot go back to Darfur, where genocide continues and his life would be taken. He has nowhere to go, and has no choice but to try and continue to survive in Israel, even if it means risking hunger.
Both the High Court of Justice and the State Comptroller has insisted that the infringement of the rights of the asylum seeking community by the state is worsening the state of the citizens of Israel which reside by them as well. They have called the government to form policy that will promise an appropriate treatment of this group as soon as possible, and the Comptroller has even emphasized the urgent need for this by the most needy and weak among them.
This new legislation is contradictory to these statements, and instead of fixing these offenses, it worsens them and reinforces them. If this law comes into effect, the poverty and struggle of the asylum seekers will worsen, and there is fear of an actual humanitarian crisis. As a result, their living areas will be more crowded. If they won’t be thrown out of their homes, they will be in need of community services that are not given to them as of now, will need to give up medical treatment, and so on. There is no doubt that the adversity in areas in which they reside, in particular southern Tel Aviv, will increase.
The stated aim of the law is to “encourage” the departure of asylum seekers from Israel, that being in contradiction to the supreme court ruling that encouraging people who are entitled to international protections to give those up and return to a place that is dangerous to them, is invalid. Unfortunately, documentation of many cases of death and imprisonment of those who have returned from Israel due to pressure, is not making the authorities stop this persecution. Now, we must hope the supreme court will put an end to this.
Read Ilan Lior’s full Haaretz article, “Rights Groups Ask Court to Scrap Deductions From Asylum Seekers’ Salaries”