Founded to provide comfort and aid to Jews escaping pogroms in Eastern Europe, HIAS has always had a special relationship with Israel. Even before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, HIAS was engaged with helping Jews to immigrate to Palestine from as early as 1927. HIAS established its office in Israel in 1950 to assist the large waves of olim in their arrival, absorption, and integration into Israeli society.
Today, now that the Israeli government and The Jewish Agency have assumed full responsibility for immigration and absorption of olim, HIAS is using our expertise to help the country develop a humane admission system for refugees and asylum seekers that adheres to international legal standards and protects the security of the state. According to UNHCR, there are 55,000 refugees in Israel: roughly 36,000 from Eritrea, 15,000 from Sudan, and 4,000 from other African countries. HIAS works closely with both the Israeli government and UNHCR in their efforts to protect these refugees and review their claims of asylum. HIAS also provides ongoing training to personnel from the Israeli Ministry of the Interior to ensure that they can fully assume the responsibilities of Refugee Status Determination as laid out in international law.
In 2001, we established the first-ever refugee law course in Israel and in 2003, we co-formed the first Israeli refugee law clinic. Established at Tel Aviv University's Buchman Law Faculty, the clinic is the premier institution of refugee law knowledge and expertise in Israel.
Finally, HIAS is actively working with NGO colleagues and lawyers, both inside and outside of Israel, to develop a network of pro bono lawyers who provide legal services for asylum seekers. READ MORE