Since the “global refugee crisis”, The number of the refugees in Israel is significant decreased. And yet, the policy of the government is still unrecognizing them as a refugees.
The huge wave of what came to be known as the global refugee crisis peaked in 2015, but it is far from over. The number of refugees who managed to reach Europe in 2018 was the lowest in the past five years. According to estimates, some 141,000 refugees managed to enter the continent (in addition to some 2,000 who lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean). At the height of the crisis, these were monthly figures.
These statistics are misleading, however. First, the barred gates of the Western countries on which refugees have been knocking desperately over the past decade cause an increase in the number of displaced persons trapped in the countries of origin – estimated by the UNHCR at 40 million. These millions are exposed to the constant threat of hunger, disease, war, detention, force labor, torture, human trafficking and rape.
Israel has also seen a significant decrease in the number of asylum seekers. Only 30,000 asylum seekers currently live in Israel, and after the border fence had been erected along the Egyptian border, hardly any enter Israel from that direction. In Israel in particular, the nearly total rejection of refugee status requests means that asylum seekers keep living among us with no access to basic services, in a limbo of ongoing uncertainty.
As the years go by, the harsh realities of their lives pose new challenges. The number of the aged and sick who are no longer able to work is rising, and they are not entitled to the basic welfare and health services Israel provides its documented residents. On the other hand, their children, including those born here, live in poverty and without basic rights. In a few years’ time, when these children have matured, they too would be labelled “infiltrators”, despite having been born and educated here.
It is essential that we understand that wat is called the “refugee crisis” is not only humanitarian but also or perhaps mainly political. This political crisis is not unique to Israel by any means, but Israel’s record in addressing it is appalling. For over a decade, the government has treated the refugees almost exclusively as objects of sanctions, detention, deportation, mistreatment and neglect, using them as a vehicle for inciting hatred and fanning discontent, instead of adopting a humane and compassionate approach.