Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel

Aid to People with Disabilities

Most asylum-seekers in Israel lack access to health services and medical care. This situation particularly affects those among them who face physical or mental disabilities.

People with physical disabilities: in most cases, asylum-seekers with physical disabilities were healthy at the time of entering Israel, and developed the disability during their stay, as a result of a work accident, car accident, or illness. As people with disabilities they often require assistance, and many times are unable to function independently. However, as asylum-seekers they are excluded from access to necessary treatment and support services. Since employment opportunities available to asylum-seekers usually involve physical labor, the inability to work places people with disabilities in serious financial difficulties, and makes them dependent on family and community members, who are themselves struggling to survive.

People with mental disabilities: Many asylum-seekers in Israel face daily trauma, due to living  without status and rights as refugees, marginalized in society, dealing with uncertainties about their future. In addition, the difficult events experienced by asylum-seekers in their country of origin and on their escape path to Israel, sometimes constitute a trigger for an outbreak of mental illness, or cause the development of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD). Coping with these conditions requires medical and mental care, as well as basic living conditions that will enable rehabilitation and recovery. However, in the absence of accessible solutions, many asylum-seekers who suffer from mental health issues are not being treated.

Oftentimes, mentally ill refugees are left to deal with their problems alone, for they lack family and social support in Israel. With the exception of the Gesher mental health clinic in Jaffa, which is limited in services and capacity - medical treatment, mental support and various rehabilitation opportunities are unavailable to this community.

How do we help these populations at ASSAF?

In addition to public advocacy work aimed to promote welfare and health services for asylum-seekers facing physical or mental disabilities, ASSAF provides direct support to these vulnerable populations. Asylum-seekers with disabilities who turn to ASSAF obtain access to a variety of services and solutions, including humanitarian aid and assistance in realizing their rights.

Particularly, the organization operates a special program for asylum-seekers with disabilities. Through this program, they are entitled to individual help of a social worker who provides them with mental and emotional support, and assists them by handling their cases vis-a-vis governmental and social institutions and agencies. Additionally, the organization offers professional therapy to people with disabilities through support groups, in order to empower them, strengthen their resilience and equip them with tools to cope with their complex reality.