Safety for Refugees and People Seeking Asylum - New Israel Fund Australia

Safety for Refugees and People Seeking Asylum

Since they began arriving from Eritrea and Sudan almost ten years ago, more than 35,000 African seeking asylum in Israel have been subject to periods of mandatory detention, threats of deportation, prohibitions on working, inadequate access to healthcare and uncertain legal status.

NIF Australia worked in partnership with a number of organisations to stop the deportations and continues to assist in limiting detention and to find a permanent solution to people seeking asylum in Israel.

Projects we support:

Community House

Refugees and asylum seekers in Israel have a new central building in Tel Aviv to support their community thanks to a generous, multi-year commitment from Australia’s Loti and Victor Smorgon Family Foundation.

Envisioned by a group of refugee rights and support organisations, together with the Smorgon foundation and the Reality Fund which owns the property, the building is called the Community House. The Loti and Victor Smorgon Family Foundation made the Community House a reality by funding the renovations needed to create an effective community hub with tailor-made spaces for the human rights organisations and their programs.

More than 30,000 people seeking asylum live in Israel, most of them in south Tel Aviv where the Community House is located. These refugees have fled the despotic and war-torn countries of Eritrea and Sudan, yet after more than a decade in Israel, their status remains uncertain and they have been subjected to discriminatory laws, long periods of immigration detention and social isolation. More than 7,000 of their children who were born in Israel are growing up without legal status.

A number of organisations have already settled into the new building. These include: Elifelet which provides educational, therapeutic and developmental programs for statusless children; the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants which works for the rights of refugees and migrants through legal aid, litigation and advocacy; the African Refugee Development Centre, which provides training and education programs for the adult community; and the Public Committee Against Torure in Israel, an advocacy organisation which works with survivors of torture, from both refugee and other communities.

The Community House also features a classroom to allow for study and training and a co-working space for asylum seekers who do not have computer and internet access. Down the track, the Community House hopes to establish a rooftop events hub and community garden.

Bringing these projects into a single hub will boost the ability for tens of thousands of asylum seekers to receive crucial services, support and education to help them manage the complicated situation they are in and to succeed in wider Israeli society.


  • 2023 – $80,714
  • 2022 – $80,000
  • 2021 – $80,000

Victor Smorgon Charitable Fund logo

We are grateful to the Victor Smorgon Charitable Fund for their support of Community House.

Hotline for Refugees and Migrants

NIF Australia has supported the Hotline for a number of years and in January, following the announcement that mass deportations would begin soon, we raised more than $20,000 in an emergency campaign to offer additional support.

NIF Australia supports two areas of the Hotline’s work: the walk-in clinic and its precedent-setting cases to the High Court.

The clinic sees more than 1,000 people seeking asylum each year, providing important case management services, helping them apply for their refugee status, and fight back against detention and deportation orders.

Some of the Hotline’s landmark cases include improving the conditions of detention, having anti-refugee laws declared unconstitutional, and achieving judgements providing protection for Eritreans seeking asylum from their government’s military conscription.

We continue to fund the Hotline’s work to provide certainty and security for people seeking asylum.


  • 2023 – $14,000
  • 2022 – $6,800
  • 2021 – $12,101
  • 2020 – $38,333
  • 2019 – $23,000
  • 2018 – $39,136
  • 2017 – $11,000


ASSAF provides humanitarian aid and social work services to people seeking asylum and refugees in Israel. Our funding began in early 2020 as it became clear that the COVID-19 crisis, which left many people seeking asylum without employment due to the widespread lockdown, would disproportionately affect this community.


  • 2022 – $2,500
  • 2021 – $2,500
  • 2020 – $17,938

Physicians for Human Rights Israel

PHRI runs a daily medical clinic in Yafo for refugees, people seeking asylum and migrant workers who lack legal status and don’t have access to any medical insurance.

Between this clinic and their weekly mobile clinic in the West Bank, more than 16,000 people are given medical treatment and referrals they couldn’t otherwise receive.


  • 2023 – $57,114
  • 2022 – $32,500
  • 2021 – $15,000
  • 2020 – $38,333
  • 2019 – $25,000
  • 2018 – $25,000

Kav La’oved

Another detrimental government policy facing people seeking asylum is the requirement to forego a large portion of their wage which is to be reclaimed only when they leave the country. While in Israel this policy entrenches their poverty and also creates issues when they try to access the funds as they depart the country.

We funded a four-month increase in staff hours to support those who assist people seeking asylum trying to access their confiscated funds, representing them outside banks and the tax authority, as well as outreach to community members to better understand their rights.


  • 2018 – $10,000

African Refugee Development Center

The African Refugee Development Center is a grassroots organisation founded in 2004 by African asylum seekers and Israeli citizens in order to protect, assist, and empower the community of people seeking asylum from Africa.

ARDC began as a humanitarian aid organisation and over time has adapted to fit community needs. 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.

Currently, ARDC works to bolster social mobility within the community and give humanitarian aid to those in dire need during Covid-19 crisis.


  • 2022 – $1,159
  • 2021 – $4,195
  • 2020 – $200


Elifelet supports the children of asylum seekers through education and the distribution of food and other humanitarian aid.


  • 2023 – $9,955
  • 2022 – $4,330
  • 2021 – $13,000

Eritrean Women's Community Center

Focusing on Eritreans seeking asylum in Israel, the EWCC focuses particularly on empowering Eritrean women, helping with vocational and language courses, bureaucratic issues, legal assistance and psychological and emotional support. Some of their recent highlights include a hair dressing business course, English course and basic computer skills course. The centre also provides babysitting so that mothers can still participate in sessions.

The centre has rallied additional support from around the world to boost their resources in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.


  • 2020 – $10,000

Besen Family Foundation

We are grateful to the Besen Family Foundation for their support of the Eritrean Women's Community Center.


Kuchinate (crochet in Tigrinya) is a collective of African asylum-seeking women living in Tel Aviv. Kuchinate is composed of over 260 women who design and create crochet products for the home, such as baskets, poufs, and rugs. They also host crochet lessons, meals, and traditional Eritrean coffee ceremonies at their beautiful studio in south Tel Aviv.

Kuchinate is a socio-psychological project that allows the women to earn money and to cope with the harsh realities of their lives, through creation rooted in African culture. Each of the women receives a fair salary for their work as part of the collective, as well as social services. Since its establishment in 2011, Kuchinate has changed the lives of tens of women, most of them mothers for whom the collective serves as their sole form of income.


  • 2023 – $1,000
  • 2022 – $16,412
  • 2021 – $18,302


Mesila's program supports food and other humanitarian aid for asylum seekers in need of assistance.


  • 2021 – $30,000