To Stay or to Leave? The Unsolved Dilemma of the Eritrean Asylum-Seekers in Israel

Family of Eritrean Refugees in Israel | “Far from Home” by amira_a is licensed under CC BY 2.0

[The full text of the Article may be found at this PDF]

By Cristiano d’Orsi*

This work was conceived with the idea to analyze the conditions of Eritrean asylum-seekers in Israel who, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (“UNHCR”), deserve international protection.[1] It seeks to highlight gaps in their protection and to identify gap-filling solutions that would be amenable to both Israeli authorities and Eritreans asylum-seekers.

This work will follow the usual path of an individual fleeing persecution in his or her country of origin and seeking a safe haven abroad. Thus, Part I of this work, after this introductory note, will be dedicated to the arrival of Eritrean asylum-seekers in Israel. Part II will focus on the reaction of Israeli authorities once the Eritreans have managed to enter the country. It will review attempts to remove the Eritreans as unwanted guests. Part III will scrutinize the conditions of the Eritrean asylum-seekers that manage, at least temporarily, to remain in Israel. The analysis will cover recent domestic legislation and the sort of “limbo” in which Eritreans find themselves, with very few rights, and with no clear future in Israel or elsewhere. Part IV will examine the status of essential socio-economic rights (right to work and right to health) that Eritrean asylum-seekers can claim within Israel. This Article concludes by illustrating the major challenges for the Eritrean asylum-seekers in Israel and by making recommendations to improve their situation in the country.

* Dr. Cristiano d’Orsi is a Research Fellow and Lecturer at the South African Research Chair in International Law (SARCIL) at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. A previous version of this work has been presented at the conference “Migration and Exile in the Horn of Africa: State of Knowledge and Current Debates,” held in Khartoum (Sudan) on November 17–18, 2015. Special thanks to Prof. Reuven Ziegler of the University of Reading and Dr. Tally Kritzman-Amir of the College of Law and Business, Israel for their assistance and contributions.

[1] UNHCR’s Oral Comments on the Legislative Proposal: Law for the Prevention of Infiltration (Nov. 27, 2017) (on file with author).