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20110624 World Refugee Day - Tel-Aviv
An estimated 27,000 refugees and asylum seekers reside in Israel, most in south Tel-Aviv. The majority are from Eritrea and Sudan, while others come from the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Ivory Coast. Numerous Asians enter Israel on a tourist visa, or specific work permit, remaining in the country illegally when their permits expire. When caught, detention of arriving asylum seekers is the default course of action in Israel. Once the prisons are filled to capacity, asylum seekers are released into Israeli city centers. Refugees' and asylum seekers' access to basic services, such as health care, housing, education, vocational training and employment ranges from very limited to none at all. Hundreds of new arrivals, including pregnant women, children and unaccompanied minors have remained homeless. The waiting period prior to a decision on the asylum application takes months or years, leaving asylum seekers in a prolonged legal limbo. Police raids and arrests, at times ending with detention, are common during this waiting period.
Israeli policy makers are struggling with the situation. Israel has become a preferred destination for African refugees, sneaking in through Egypt's Sinai Desert. While Egyptian police and military patrolling the joint borders often shoot to kill, the Israeli government seems at loss on how best to handle the situation. At loss and without decisive plans of actions, nothing is done and the welfare of these refugees and asylum seekers lies with voluntary human rights organisations.
What I found extraordinary at today's rally is the ease with which children assimilate. They gather in Tel-Aviv from far corners of the Earth and play together, laugh and smile - in Hebrew! Asians and Africans speak fluent Hebrew among themselves and with Israeli children, while their parents congregate mostly in origin-based groups for lack of language skills. Many of these children were born in Israel and know no other mother tongue.
"Strangers No More," a film about the Bialik-Rogozin School in Tel Aviv, won the Academy Award in the category of Documentary (Short Subject) on February 27, 2011. The documentary, produced and directed by Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon, provides a window into a remarkable school in Tel Aviv where children from 48 different countries come together to learn. The film shares the stories of several students as they struggle to overcome their early hardships and acclimate to life in a new land.
Academy AwardBialikRogozin SchoolCongoDemocratic Republic of CongoEritreaHuman RightsIsraelIvory CoastKaren GoodmanKirk SimonLevinski ParkMiddle EastMiddleEastPHRPhysicians for Human RightsSinaiSinai DesertStrangers No MoreSudanWorld Refugee Dayafricaafricanamnestyamnesty internationalasiaasianasylumasylum seekerasylum seekersdemonstratingdemonstrationdemonstratordemonstratorsdocumentaryegypthuman rights organisationsillegalillegallyprotestprotesterprotestersprotestingrallyrefugeerefugeestel avivtelAviv20110624X100012268IntlRefugeeDayיום הפליטיום הפליט הבינלאומיפליטפליטיםתלאביבגינת לבינסקי