Approximately 40,000 asylum seekers and other undocumented people live in
Approximately 6,500 children of asylum seekers and other undocumented children live in Tel Aviv-Jaffa; 4,000 of them are between the ages of birth to six.
This year, more children in the ages of early childhood are in municipal or governmental day-care centers than at the "babysitters" (the community’s pirate day-cares).
Characteristics of the
Asylum Seeker Community
Lack of economic and family support networks.
Minimal services to ensure their needs and rights.
Uncertainty about their future.
Cultural and language gaps.
Living in a hostile social climate.
Traumatic life circumstances.
Impact on the Children
Minimal parental presence due to the necessity to work long hours.
Long hours in inadequate settings at the early childhood ages.
Wandering outside in a dangerous environment.
Developmental, educational and emotional insufficiencies.
Tragedy in the Asylum Seeker Community
The asylum seeker community suffered a tragic event on November, 2018. Silvana Tsegai, a 13-year-old Eritrean girl, was brutally murdered. Mesila assisted the family and continues to stand by her mother, father, friends, relatives, the children of the community and the community as a whole.
The difficult circumstances of Silvana’s life are not unfamiliar to mothers and children in the asylum seeker community. In the months following the murder, we have seen the impact on the entire community:
• There is a sharp rise in the number of reports to Mesila on violence against women and children.
• The number of requests for assistance in all of Mesila's units has risen dramatically.
• Therapy sessions between social workers and Mesila's patients from the asylum seeker community have been much more emotional, and the level of fear for the well-being of the community’s children has risen.
We will continue to support the family specifically and the community in general and we will remember Silvana forever.
The Deposit Law
The Deposit Law (Amendment to the Law Against Infiltration) continues to weaken the asylum seeker community.
The law deducts 20% of asylum seeker׳s salary into a deposit, which may only be returned to them when they leave Israel. The intensive advocacy work by the aid organizations, has led to the reduction of the deposit.
As of November 2018, the deposit was reduced to 6% of the salary for women, minors, recognized victims of human trafficking, men over the age of 60, single fathers and men with exceptional physical or mental conditions.
Despite this, we have witnessed the harmful effects of the law, including:
Many families in the community are pushed further into poverty and there has been a dramatic rise in the number of people turning to us for material and financial assistance.
There is an increase in the number of women (especially single mothers) who have deteriorated into prostitution as their last resort.
Parents have stopped paying for their children's health insurance due to economic distress.
In April 2020, Israel's High Court of Justice ruled that the Deposit Law is unconstitutional, and therefore null and void.
Deportation of Asylum Seekers
On January 2018, the government established a procedure for deporting asylum seekers from Israel to a “third country.” Asylum seekers opposing deportation would be imprisoned indefinitely in Saharonim Detention Facility.
From the moment the decision was announced, we were surprised and excited to see that many citizens, social organizations, kibbutzim and businesses in Israel opposed the deportation.
On March 2018, around 25,000 people participated in an anti-deportation demonstration in Tel-Aviv. The deportation plan was canceled on April 2018, yet no solution was reached for the status of asylum seekers or for the rehabilitation of south Tel-Aviv.
The events surrounding the deportation increased the community’s feeling of uncertainty and existential threat.