Who is a refugee? What are his rights? How are those rights exercised? The issue of refugees in Israel is a constant part on the public agenda.
According to the International Convention on the Rights of Refugees, a refugee is a foreign citizen who is unable of returning to his or her homeland because of the danger he faces there. Not any type of danger makes a person a refugee. The source of danger must be related to the person’s race, religion, citizenship or belonging to a persecuted group. For example, a person who attempts to escape the law or revenge over crimes he has committed is usually not considered as a refugee.
According to the Convention, to which the State of Israel is a signatory, refugees who arrive at a foreign country and seek there refuge (protection) from the danger they face in their country of origin have certain rights: They cannot be deported, they must be allowed to work and provided with social rights similar to those provided for the citizens of the state. A person arriving in Israel in search for asylum must undergo an inspection-process according to the procedure for the treatment of asylum seekers of the Population and Migration Authority. In certain cases the state decides to provide sweeping protection to large population groups without examining the request of each of the asylum seekers, but such protection is essentially partial protection, which does not include the rights granted to a refugee. Such was the case of the citizens of Eritrea and some of the citizens of Sudan in the last years.
Due to the rigid policy of the Population and Immigration Authority regarding the recognition of refugees in Israel, and in view of the frequent changes in this policy and its procedures, it is important to know the issue and get well prepared to the asylum process as early as possible. Our office accompanies asylum seekers in all stages of the process: writing the application, accompanying the seeker during the interview, and appealing to the court in case of rejection of the request.