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On the illegal migrants issue

8 January 2014

(Communicated by MFA Spokesperson)

In recent years the State of Israel like many other developed countries has been experiencing an influx of individuals who entered Israel unlawfully by crossing the Israeli-Egyptian border. The total number of such individuals who entered Israel since 2006 is estimated at more than 64,000. Some have since returned voluntarily to their country of origin, bringing their current number to 53,600. The sheer numbers and the range of issues raised present a significant challenge for the economic and social services of Israel - whose population is 8 million.

The situation in Israel is much more complex than that of other developed countries. Israel is the only developed country with a land border with Africa, which makes it comparatively more accessible for those who wish to enter. Moreover, due to Israel's unique geostrategic situation and the current political instability surrounding its borders, it becomes practically impossible to develop regional cooperative solutions with countries of origin and transit, as is done by other developed countries, such as European countries and the US.

Israel tries to balance the need to control its borders with the need to protect the human rights of those who enter. Due to its adherence to International law, Israel granted protection to approximately 60,000 people without the need to prove prima facie that they have an individual claim to stay in Israel. Those individuals amount to approximately 95% of all individuals that entered Israel illegally through its southern border.

The Population and Immigration Authority, through its RSD (Refugee Status Determination) unit, has been examining hundreds of demands for asylum, in coordination with the UNHCR, which has provided training for the RSD personnel. All applications are given thorough treatment, with priority given to those submitted by migrants staying in the Saharonim and Holot facilities. The examination is carried out in accordance with Israel’s international legal obligations, based on the UN Refugee Convention (1951). Enforcement is carried out under Israeli law and in conformity with Supreme Court rulings.

Statements on migrant issues that fail to take into account all of the above-mentioned elements are unhelpful and do not contribute to clarifying the complex issue, which the Government of Israel is handling with the responsibility and seriousness that this situation demands.

ENDS

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