• Mon. Feb 26th, 2024

Israel Struggling to Form Policy due to Influx of Refugees

Mar 7, 2022

On Sunday, the Russian invasion continued through its 11th day and the UN referring to the ensuing refugee crisis to be the fastest-growing after World War II, Israel appears to be struggling with its policy regarding these fugitives. Ayelet Shaked, the Interior Minister stated on Sunday that Israel may have to limit the number of Ukrainian refugees that will be permitted into the country. Shaked spoke at a Knesset meeting about the preparations for absorbing Israeli refugees and citizens fleeing from Ukraine. She said that since the beginning of the war, about 2,034 Ukrainians have come to Israel and about 10% of them are eligible for citizenship in the country under the Law of Return. 

According to her estimates, there will be about 15,000 Ukrainian refugees in Israel in this month. However, she said that continuing with such an entry rate would be impossible and they need the policy to handle it. She stated that taking into account Israel’s size, they have already brought in more Ukrainian refugees than any other European country. On Sunday, the UN reported that the Russian military operation had displaced about 1.5 million Ukrainians since February 24th and this is the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

On Sunday, the Immigration and Absorption Ministry announced that special status would be granted to new immigrants from Ukraine. Doing so would enable them to get a one-time payment of NIS 6,000 ($1,800) from the state for every immigrant. Couples would be granted NIS 11,000 ($3,350) and a family would receive NIS 15,000 ($4,580). This would also be in addition to any other benefits that the ministry would provide to the immigrants in the first six months, which is around NIS 19,000 ($5,800) and NIS 36,000 ($10,995), for individuals and family, respectively.

Pnina Tamano-Shata, the Immigration and Absorption Minister, stated on Sunday that she was expecting tens of thousands of refugees to come into Israel in the next few months, as the Russian invasion continues to intensify. She stated that they were trying to offer the best conditions possible to the Jews who are eligible to immigrate as per the Law of Return and were not even asking them for visas. She said that the main challenge would be absorbing the immigrants in the long run and they were working on figuring it out. The Immigration and Absorption Ministry’s director, Ronen Cohen said on Sunday that about 400 refugees had come into Israel in the last six hours.

Facilitating immigration in Israel, the Jewish Agency has already disclosed that they have gotten thousands of requests of immigration in the last week and a half from Ukraine, since the Russian invasion began. This is significantly more than what they get during the course of a year. A similar increase in immigration from Russia has also been predicted by Israeli officials. Meanwhile, the Education Ministry recently announced that it was gearing up to absorb about 2,000 school children in the coming days. Yifat Shasha-Biton, the Education Minister, has asked for plans to be drawn up about integrating the students.

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