Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel

ASSAF’s support of asylum seekers during the lockdown imposed in Israel to combat Covid-19 (July 2020)

Date: 6.7.20 Source: ASSAF

The outbreak of Coronavirus and the ensuing lockdown have devastated the asylum seekers’ community in Israel - a community already marginalized and living in poverty. The restrictions on movement, loss of earnings and extreme uncertainty have pushed the community into an ongoing crisis. Many asylum seekers are struggling to feed themselves and their families; many face losing their homes as they are unable to pay rent. 

It is estimated that around 75% of asylum seekers in Israel have lost their income during lockdown. As they are ineligible for unemployment benefits, many were left with no form of support and became destitute. The end of the lockdown has brought record high unemployment in the Israeli job market, and asylum seekers, who are usually the last to be recruited and typically only for physical and poorly paid jobs, are still struggling to return to their old jobs or find new work.   

During lockdown we at ASSAF did what we usually do: provide essential psycho-social services and support to asylum seekers. We just did more. Our services were open more hours than usual, we distributed more aid than we usually do, our door was left open throughout the lockdown and we stayed in close contact with the community. All this was done while adhering to the Ministry of Health instructions and safety requirements, protecting our clients, staff and volunteers. 

This report summarizes our work during the period of lockdown in Israel. This work is far from over, and the asylum seekers community is still deep in crisis.