Operation: Opération: Israel



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Key Figures

2017 year-end figures
1,290 asylum-seekers were supported with legal assistance   
500 Darfuris were granted Temporary Residence Visas  issued on a humanitarian basis by the State, as a result of concerted advocacy efforts by UNHCR and partners
300 refugees departed to third countries through resettlement and other humanitarian pathways
80% of children-at-risk received appropriate care
67% of known SGBV survivors received support, despite a greater prevalence of SGBV and limited availability of government shelters
2018 planning figures
6,000 people of concern with specific needs will be supported through advocacy, legal or medical/psycho-social interventions
5,000 people of concern will be provided with legal advice for accessing employment opportunities
1,700 refugees will have their cases submitted for resettlement or other admission pathways 
300 people of concern will receive skills training for livelihood purposes
150 community members will be trained in sexual and gender based violence prevention and response
40 community groups will be supported to better advocate for their rights and needs

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2017 55,250
2016 44,665
2015 45,106


[["Refugees",254],["Refugee-like situation",25219],["Asylum-seekers",29735],["Stateless",42]]
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2017 {"categories":[2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018],"budget":[3.22276023,2.9347088,3.20793918,3.07990377,3.73197219,3.95707617],"expenditure":[2.86515197,2.6475354,2.75589838,2.67243925,2.86766417,null]} {"categories":[2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018],"p1":[3.22276023,2.9347088,3.20793918,3.07990377,3.73197219,3.95707617],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018],"p1":[2.86515197,2.6475354,2.75589838,2.67243925,2.86766417,null],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]}
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  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018

Year-end Overview

Operational context

UNHCR seeks to enhance the protection space and increase the access of people of concern to services, while advocating for their rights and proposing solutions. The protection environment in Israel deteriorated in 2017. While some progress was made with respect to the granting of humanitarian visas to 500 Darfuris, UNHCR faced notable challenges in preserving the protection space for other people of concern and in pursuing durable solutions. The main restrictive measures impacting refugee and asylum-seekers’ access to rights and protection in 2017 included:
  • Detention for three months upon arrival followed by mandatory residence in a semi-open facility (Holot) for up to one year.
  • Application of the “Deposit Law” whereby 20 percent of people of concerns’ salaries were deposited into a fund, only available upon departure from Israel.
  • Eritrean and Sudanese nationals in need of international protection have been encouraged with financial incentives to relocate from Israel to third countries in Africa.
  • The relocation policy (to be implemented in 2018) was sanctioned, compelling people of concern to relocate to third African countries or face indefinite detention in Israel.

Population trends

  • At the end of 2017, there were over 37,000 refugees and asylum-seekers in Israel, including over 26,500 Eritreans, 7,600 Sudanese, and more than 3,100 individuals, mainly from other African countries.
  • Between 2016 and 2017, the overall refugee and asylum-seeker caseload decreased from some 40,000 to 37,000, mainly due to relocation to third countries, sponsorship programmes and resettlement.
  • Since 2014, more than 21,100 nationals from Georgia and Ukraine have filed for asylum in Israel, making it more difficult for Eritreans and Sudanese to access asylum procedures

Key achievements

  • Protection monitoring of the asylum-seeker population both inside and outside of detention facilities continued, identifying nearly 3,500 people, including 58 new survivors of trafficking and torture.
  • As a result of interventions by legal partners, detention was avoided or interrupted for 186 asylum-seekers; HIV services were provided to over 5,000 asylum-seekers, including awareness raising, distribution of materials and referrals for medical assistance.
  • Participatory assessments were conducted in 20 cities to identify asylum-seekers’ priorities in order to further improve UNHCR’s assistance programme.
  • Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) prevention trainings were carried out for 20 asylum-seekers.

Unmet needs

  • Gaps in funding meant that legal assistance could not be extended to some 950 asylum-seekers, as legal appeals could not be systematically supported without funds for lawyers and translators.  A negative decision on appeal leaves persons with a final rejection, meaning they are no longer considered asylum-seekers by the Government and may be subject to expulsion when conditions allow.
  • Due to a lack of funding, UNHCR was unable to provide housing, financial, medical and/or psycho-social services for 411 identified SGBV survivors.
  • With the recent evolution of the legal framework, it is estimated that there are 50 per cent more vulnerable asylum-seekers in need of financial and in-kind assistance. Due to limited funding in 2017, 51 asylum-seekers were left without solutions.

Plan Overview

Working environment

Israel hosts more than 40,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, the majority of whom originate from Eritrea and Sudan. UNHCR maintains a constructive dialogue with the Ministry of the Interior to promote a more protective status and solutions for the refugees and asylum-seekers in Israel. 
The Government of Israel provides full and free access to primary and secondary education. To some degree, it supports pre and post-natal medical care for asylum-seeker women and newly-born babies. It also provides shelter and rehabilitation for recognized victims of trafficking. HIV-treatment, including medication and monitoring, is provided to the majority of affected asylum-seekers without health insurance. In addition, life-saving and critical support is delivered at the municipal level to assist some asylum-seeker children and families at risk. 

Key priorities

Key priorities in Israel in 2017 include:
•    Implementing a pilot project within the framework of the Solutions Strategy which is subject to approval by the Minister of Interior. This project will allow improved protection for some 5,000 refugees in Israel, whereas another 1,670 refugees would find protection in third countries through resettlement or admission via humanitarian pathways;
•    Reducing protection risks faced by asylum-seeker children (e.g. neglect, abuse, lack of proper birth documents) with a particular focus on newborns and age groups zero to three;
•    Increasing the provision of age- and gender-sensitive services to persons of concern who have experienced abuse, violence and exploitation, with a particular focus on victims of torture, sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) asylum-seekers and single mothers;
•    Advocacy and provision of medical, psycho-social and rehabilitative services to asylum-seekers with disabilities; 
•    Improved outreach to and engagement with communities to inform them of their basic rights and access to services; 
•    Interventions to promote the self-reliance of asylum-seekers, including  through access to higher education, technical and vocational training;
•    Targeted advocacy and media interventions to promote the acceptance of asylum-seekers.  

The Office will continue to work with the authorities, UN agencies and civil society actors to pursue effective responses and to ensure adequate protection for asylum-seekers, including access to basic services and improved interactions between authorities, host communities and asylum-seekers. 
The Office will seek to ensure continued funding for the implementation of the Solutions Strategy aimed at the strengthening of refugees and asylum seekers’ protection and access to solutions.