For the next few episodes, we’ll be exploring the African asylum seeking community in Tel Aviv. Since the late 1990s up until Israel sealed its southern border in 2012, thousands of Africans from Eritrea and Sudan have fled persecution in their own countries to Israel. Currently, some 38,000 reside in the state with neither refugee status or any path to citizenship. As non-legal residents, these asylum seekers face countless challenges to gain employment, receive an education, and resist deportation.
Over the summer, we spoke with Leah Hecht and Guli Dolev-Hashiloni of the African Refugee Development Center. The ARDC is a grassroots, community-based nonprofit organization that was founded in 2004 by African asylum-seekers and Israeli citizens in order to protect, assist, and empower African refugees and asylum-seekers in Israel. The ARDC began its work as a humanitarian aid organization, and over time has adapted to fit community needs. Currently, it works to address gaps in services created by harsh governmental policies in 4 key sectors: education, livelihoods, advocacy, and rights empowerment. To date, ARDC has served over 15,000 asylum-seekers from a number of countries and operates various educational programs seeking to deepen the social and economic inclusion of asylum-seekers throughout Israel.