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Polaris of Enlightenment

Monday, May 20, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

US report: Ukrainian refugees at risk of trafficking in Israel

The war in Ukraine

Published 29 June 2023
- By Editorial Staff
Ukrainian refugees are considered highly vulnerable in Israel.

Until March 2023, at least 14,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Israel. However, the US State Department warns that due to Israel’s migration rules, the refugees are at high risk of being exploited in prostitution and human trafficking.

“Most of this population arrived on tourist visas which have been regularly renewed and are working under a ‘non-enforcement’ government policy. NGOs reported this unstable situation and unclear work permit policy has increased the vulnerability of this population to sex and labor trafficking”, it is stated in a report.

Israel recently decided to extend the operation of the agency assisting Ukrainian refugees for another year, after sharp criticism from the Ukrainian government about Israel’s treatment of refugees trying to enter the country.

The representative of the UNHCR in Israel, Mathijs Le Rutte, has previously told the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Israel’s lack of consistency towards Ukrainian refugees creates many difficulties and prevents them from obtaining basic rights and living with dignity.

The United States is also criticizing Israel:

“The government’s efforts to hold labor traffickers criminally accountable remained inadequate, and the government did not consistently investigate labor trafficking cases referred by NGOs”, writes the US State Department, pointing out that Israel appears to have relied on NGOs to identify victims, rather than working proactively.

The Americans also express concern that the actions of the Israeli authorities may result in Ukrainian refugees being forced into slave labor. They urge Israel to increase the number of investigations, prosecute more traffickers, and work proactively by investing more resources in identifying potential victims. It also calls for all Israeli law enforcement officials, border guards and prison staff to undergo special training programs on how to combat human trafficking.

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