Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel

Asylum-seeking minors in Israel

Children of asylum seekers are particularly vulnerable in Israel, deprived of many of their basic rights. Like their parents, these children lack legal status. Asylum seekers encounter significant challenges in acclimating to Israel, in part because they are subjected to discriminatory policies intended to push them toward the social and economic margins of Israeli society. Most asylum seekers are excluded from welfare and health services, and in addition face the economic burden of the "Deposit Law", under which 20 percent of their salaries are confiscated and deposited in a fund they cannot access until their departure from Israel. These policies drive many families of asylum seekers into poverty, placing their children at high risk.

  • Education: Under Israeli law, children of asylum seekers are to be fully integrated into the Israeli educational system, similarly to any other child in the State of Israel. Most of these children are indeed integrated into the school system, in accordance with the law. In some cases, however, children encounter bureaucratic hurdles during the admission process at educational institutions, as well as after they have been admitted.
  • Health: Although children of asylum seekers lack legal status, unlike their parents they are eligible to access medical insurance subsidized by the Ministry of Health. Currently, this coverage is provided by a single Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), Meuhedet. This right is only theoretical for some children, whose parents are unable to afford their children’s insurance fees due to their economic hardship.
  • Welfare: The State Comptroller's report, published in May 2013, sounded the alarm about the potential harm to minors lacking legal status in Israel, and called for providing them with protection. In December 2013, the minister of social affairs decided to change the previous policy applied to minors who lacked legal status, under which they would only receive services when faced with imminent danger. The change in policy was first implemented in 2014 in Tel Aviv; in April 2016, the policy was implemented nation-wide. Under the current policy, every child at risk, regardless of their legal status, will receive assistance from the social services departments of the local authorities where they reside.

ASSAF Work on Behalf of Children of Asylum Seekers and Young Adults

Since ASSAF’s founding, the NGO worked to advance the rights of asylum seekers in the fields of education, health and welfare. We adopted a multi-pronged approach to advance those rights, including through advocacy work promoting governmental policies supportive of the rights of asylum-seeking children and minors. The organization also works to ensure that this population is fully able to take advantage of the rights and services to which they are entitled to under the law. We also provide assistance in cases of discrimination.

Among other efforts, ASSAF has been at the forefront of the campaign against the Deposit Law, which has been incredibly detrimental to families of asylum seekers. To top it all off, ASSAF also operates a lively youth club.

ASSAF Campaigns

Reports and Position papers

Additional reading

Unaccompanied Minors in Israel

According to estimates, about 600 Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers entered Israel as minors without a parent accompanying them. Their families stayed behind as they fled dictatorships, wars and genocide, all alone. Between 2014 to 2017, ASSAF cooperated with CIMI - the Israeli Center for International Migration and Integration, to assist young asylum seekers who arrived in Israel as unaccompanied minors and to promote their rights vis-à-vis state authorities. Click to read more about unaccompanied minors in Israel