Israel swamped with asylum-seeking Africans, government takes responsibility from UNHCR

I don’t know exactly what the significance of this is, and the article doesn’t fully explain it, but apparently the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had a role in determining refugee and asylee status in Israel and as of July 2nd, the government of Israel has taken on that role.

From Human Rights Tribune:

The Israeli Interior Ministry is taking over the process of Refugee Status Determination (RSD) from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) on 2 July.

I can only guess that Israel wants a more determinitive role in the process as the country is flooded by mostly Africans seeking asylum.  I am guessing they are mostly Muslim Africans.

Some 15,000 mainly African asylum-seekers in Israel have put the regulatory, security and welfare response under strain, according to the Interior Ministry and UNHCR.

Israel does not have a refugee law, despite being a signatory to the 1951 refugee Convention.

However, regulations can allow asylum-seekers to work, and grant temporary protection and non-refoulement (a commitment not to force people back to where they came from).

About 200-300 asylum-seekers arrive each month, mainly overland from Egypt, according to the Immigration Authority and NGOs.

The UNHCR local office reports 14,766 asylum-seekers in Israel, while the Refugee Rights Forum (RRF – eight NGOs active in promoting the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers in Israel) suggests a number over 17,000.

Although Israel has been very good to refugees, it looks like there are some questioning Israel’s motivation.

UNHCR’s Tall said: “We must recognize the positive steps of the government of Israel regarding asylum-seekers. The ’open’ border allowing asylum-seekers to enter and the fact that the government of Israel allows them to stay are, in fact, positive measures that must be noted.”

Yaccov Ganot, head of the Immigration Authority, however told local media his aim was to reduce the number of “infiltrators”, by enhancing residential restrictions and making greater use of detention.

Egypt on the other hand shoots illegal aliens.

Nearly all asylum-seekers come from Egypt at night. Israel’s southern border is over 230km long and porous; only a low fence separates the two states.

Asylum-seekers pay Bedouin guides hundreds of US dollars to get them to the frontier where they risk getting shot at by Egyptian border guards.

In recent years hundreds have been wounded and detained while attempting to cross the border, and several have been deported to their countries of birth, according to UNHCR and NGOs in Cairo.

Others have been shot dead. In November 2008, Human Rights Watch (HRW) alleged 33 deaths of asylum-seekers at the hands of Egyptian soldiers.

Whatever happens this is Israel’s business and I sure hope that no one gets the idea to follow Malta (Tea party) Molly’s move of transforming Israel’s asylum-seeking aliens into refugees for the United States as she did in Malta.

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