Refugees and Migrants Had No Access to Israel’s Asylum System

The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants has published a new report entitled Knocking at the Gate which details how Israel’s Refugee Status Determination (RSD) unit had, beginning in January 2017, stopped receiving new asylum applications. The Hotline was made aware of this situation by refugees and migrants in Israel who continually tried to make appointments with the RSD without success. This was both in violation of the Israel’s commitment to the Refugee Convention and contradicts repeated claims by the state’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority (PIBA) that they are operating an RSD system in line with international standards. Following an appeal by the Hotline and other human rights organizations, the offices of the RSD began setting appointments to accommodate between 70 and 100 persons a day who want to submit an application for asylum.

Asylum seekers in Tel Aviv waiting in line to submit applications for asylum

Asylum seekers in Tel Aviv waiting in line to submit applications for asylum (Photo: Hotline for Refugees and Migrants)

In its report the Hotline notes that “for more than a year, we repeatedly warned the authorities about the flawed access to the asylum system and requested that they accept new asylum applications. After a lack of response, we filed a case with the Supreme Court demanding an immediate solution to the situation. It is inconceivable that thousands of people who seek protection will not be able to physically submit an asylum application because of impossibly long waiting lines. A person who has not been able to submit their application – even for reasons beyond their control – is at risk of arrest and deportation back to a place where their life may be in danger.”

The Hotline has called upon PIBA to make available online application submission, as well as to increase the number of offices and staff available to make applications. Furthermore, the Hotline demands that asylum applications must be handled within a reasonable period to ensure that Israel’s dysfunctional system is not being exploited, as we suspect to be the case as we have detailed in an earlier report Through Hidden Corridors.

The full report: Knocking at the Gate