People with Disabilities

Most asylum seekers in Israel have no access to welfare and health services. This particularly affects people with physical or mental disabilities.

People with physical disabilities: Asylum seekers with disabilities do not suffer from a severe disability that fully limits their functioning. In most cases, they have a mild or moderate one, due to a car or work accident, an illness or medical complication, or injuries from the torture camps on the way to Israel. However, the jobs that are available for most asylum seekers in Israel – construction and cleaning – usually involve considerable physical effort, coupled with long work days. Because of this, even a mild or moderate condition can limit the ability to work and earn a living. In the absence of a social security safety net and of a social, community or family support framework, asylum seekers with mild or moderate physical disabilities may find themselves in a severe humanitarian crisis, even though their disabilities are not severe and their level of functioning is high, except for an inability to work in a physically demanding job.

People with mental disabilities: Many asylum seekers in Israel suffer continuous daily trauma, due to being refugees without official status and rights, marginalized on the fringes of society, with no solutions on the horizon. Often, the traumatic events experienced in their countries of origin and on their journey to Israel develop into mental illnesses or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD). Coping with these conditions is demanding, and requires medication and mental healthcare, as well as basic living conditions that can help in rehabilitation and recovery. However, in the absence of available solutions, many mentally ill people from the asylum seeker community are not treated – and their condition deteriorates. Often, they don’t have any family or social support in Israel, and are left to cope alone. With the exception of the “Ruth” Mental Health Clinic in Tel Aviv, asylum seekers with mental disabilities do not receive any assistance – medication, mental support and various rehabilitation options are closed to the community.

What we do at ASSAF


Alongside activities promoting welfare and health services for asylum seekers with physical or mental disabilities, we provide them with direct assistance which includes:

  • One-on-one assistance from a social worker and community mediator – which includes individual support and counselling, advocacy and assistance accessing rights, work with family, friends, and the community, interfacing with institutions, social and government bodies, campaigning for resources and support from the public, and more.
  • Therapeutic support groups for people with disabilities – regular group meetings are held, led by a social worker and community mediator for empowerment, strengthening psychological  resilience, and acquiring tools for dealing with the participants complicated situation.
  • Humanitarian aid – food, clothing, financial support ,diapers and baby supplies – all based on donations.

The project aims to help the participants deal with the difficult reality in Israel, reduce their distress, and strengthen their resilience and coping mechanisms.