16 July 2012
NIF supports various organizations and projects active on addressing this pressing social issue:
African Refugee Development Center (ARDC)
ARDC is a partnership between refugees and Israeli citizens. It aims to ensure asylum seekers access to basic social services, and to facilitate refugee and asylum seeker integration, self-sufficiency and ownership in matters affecting their lives. It divides its work between individual counseling, humanitarian aid, education, community development, and policy initiatives. To date, the ARDC has served over 4,000 refugees and asylum seekers from all over Africa.
ARDC's plans for the coming year include:
Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)
- Securing scholarships for refugees to attend universities and other higher education institutions.
- To provide homeless single-parent families and pregnant women seeking asylum in Israel with safe and temporary shelter in Tel Aviv and a path forward towards economic independence.
- To provide refugees and asylum seekers of all ages with opportunities to improve their language skills and qualifications.
- To assist asylum seekers through the process of applying for asylum.
ACRI uses its legal and advocacy expertise to defend the rights of refugee and asylum seekers, with a focus on the following:
Hotline for Migrant Workers (HMW) and ASSAF: Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel
- Legal Interventions: ACRI initiates litigation against legislation that violates the basic human rights of refugees and asylum seekers. ACRI also monitors the Interior Ministry's procedures and regulations pertaining to refugees and asylum seekers, and will ensure that they meet the demands of Israeli and international law. Recent achievements include:
- ACRI's challenged the Interior Ministry's demand that families of children who are eligible to resolve their legal status in Israel must prove the father's paternity of the child through judicial and genetic processes.
- ACRI intervened with the Ministry of Interior on behalf of a family that was asked to "hand over" a relative who was residing in Israel illegally as a condition for renewing the residency permits of family members whose status in Israel had previously been resolved. As a result of ACRI's intervention, the family members' permits were renewed.
- On May 28, the High Court ruled on a petition submitted by ACRI and Physicians for Human Rights against an Interior Ministry regulation that imposed undue hardships on non-citizens who wish to change their registered address.
- Policy Advocacy: ACRI provides lawmakers and relevant public officials with credible information that better acquaints them with the asylum seeker community in Israel and the legal principles and conventions that should guide policymaking on the issue.
- Public Outreach: ACRI is currently developing public campaigns that oppose xenophobia and try to build public support for a coherent immigration policy that safeguards the basic rights of asylum seekers and enables them to obtain minimum health and welfare services.
- Education: ACRI's Human Rights Education Department will develop teaching modules to help teachers and informal educators lead discussions on the rights of asylum seekers. There will also be a conference on the educational challenges posed by migrations.
NIF is providing grant support for these organizations to work together on a campaign aimed at changing public attitudes and generating public pressure regarding both the detention conditions at the expanding facilities located in the Negev, and regarding the draconian Anti-Infiltration Law. The two organizations are also working together on an emergency network for those who are threatened with deportation from Israel. Earlier this year, the Interior Ministry announced that the collective immunity it had offered to asylum seekers from the Ivory Coast had ended. Since February 1st, refugees from the Ivory Coast have been arrested and deported. In April, the Interior Ministry also ended the collective immunity for asylum seekers from South Sudan.
This situation has led to a significant increase in the number of asylum seekers who contact these organizations for assistance and information. The Refugee Assistance Network aims to do the following:
- Updating of information regarding the procedures followed by the Interior Ministry and enforcement agencies.
- Delivering information to asylum seekers via flyers, meetings, one-on-one counseling, and individual assistance. Information flyers will also be distributed to employers.
- Increasing the number of volunteers who visit detention centers to obtain the release of as a many prisoners as possible before the authorities begin making use of orders based on the Law to Combat Infiltration, which will make it harder to secure the release of asylum seekers.
- Helping asylum seekers who are not imprisoned navigate the Interior Ministry bureaucracy.
In light of the recent incitement and violence targeting asylum seekers in South Tel Aviv, NIF has approved three emergency grants to organizations dealing with the problem:
SHATIL: Assistance to Refugee Aid and Advocacy Organizations
- Following recent instances of violence and arson, ARDC met with the police, who recommended installing security cameras to deter attacks on the shelter. In addition, they need to purchase firefighting equipment and fit security doors to the rooms in the shelter.
- ARDC has begun establishing a group of young activists-leadersdrawn from across the 13 different communities of asylum seekers. The group has three main objectives:
- To encourage asylum seekers to become involved in the community and to conduct joint community projects with Israelis.
- To advocate on behalf of the community.
- To improve relationships between asylum seekers and veteran Israelis.
- ASSAF's Advocacy and Support Center helps 450 asylum seekers every month. The center offers orientation for newly arrived asylum seekers, information, and referral to other aid organizations. Following recent events, there has been a significant increase in the number of people who have contacted the center. The organization has decided that it needs a half-time social worker to work alongside the National Service volunteer that currently runs the center.
- Ahoti (My Sister) is a nationwide feminist organization based in Neve Sha'anan in South Tel Aviv. In recent weeks, the organization's director has been holding Dialogue Group meetings on the roof of her house with neighborhood residents and asylum seekers. Planned activities include: Joint patrols by asylum seekers and local residents in cooperation with the police; a service to accompany elderly residents who fear for their safety; joint demonstrations, and a joint policy paper.
SHATIL have opened an 'emergency room' to deal more effectively with attacks on refugees and their aftermath. This involves three major functions:
- Capacity building to African refugees and asylum seeker aid and advocacy groups. Due to limited resources, these organizations had not hitherto been priority for Shatil consulting.
- Influencing the discourse: Shatil is working with various target groups, such as decision makers, pluralism organizations, rabbis, Ethiopian groups and more, to strengthen voices of reason and tolerance.
- Community organizing among veteran residents of South Tel Aviv on issues such as housing, education, health care, and social services.
In 2012, NIF intends to invest more than $100,000 on programs relating to refugees and asylum seekers in Israel. Make a donation designated to support this work.