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13,683 people entered Israel illegally in 2010, 62% were Eritreans and 33% were Sudanese. It is estimated that there are between 60,000-70,000 asylum seekers in Israel. In exploring the influx of illegal migration, this paper provides an overview of Israel's asylum and refugee policies. At present Israel has not adopted refugee or asylum legislation to ensure compliance with the 1951 Refugee Convention, which it is signatory to, thus thousands of migrants are left in limbo. Instead the state has implemented draconian measures to prevent migrants from entering Israel, such measures include: the construction of a fence along the Egypt-Israel border, detention centres and the deportation of migrants to their home countries. The author discusses the effect such policies have on African women and children, the most vulnerable and marginalized section of society. Many women and children have experienced a traumatic journey to Israel, having been smuggled by Bedouins through the Sinai Peninsula, a lawless territory, only to arrive in Israel and either be detained in prison or a detention centre or find themselves further exploited to obtain housing, food and money. In exploring these issues, the author discusses the challenges mass migration poses to Israeli social, political and legal discourse, which is torn between a partial commitment to upholding universal human rights and ethnocentric ideologies.
By Charlotte Rachael Proudman, Barrister, 1 Mitre Court Buildings
The full version of this article appears in the March 2013 issue of International Family Law.
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