Who We Are & What We Do
On August 15th, 2007, Bnai Darfur was established in Israel. Bnai Darfur is a non-profit humanitarian organization that works to develop a communal identity for Darfurian refugees in Israel through provision of social, health, educational and cultural programming and services. Our aim is to empower the community; we help individual members achieve self-sufficiency and economic independence while acting together to advance our socio-economic status as a group. While we primarily assist the Darfurian community, our group also provides vital assistance and consultation to other refugee communities such as those from South Sudan and Eritrea.
Bnai Darfur was founded by a core group of some of the first Darfurian refugees to enter Israel. While still detained by the authorities in Israeli prisons, these activists decided to create a self-help and self-advocacy association with the belief that they could best understand and address the needs of their own community. During their prolonged detention, community members began to teach each other English to prepare for their release and increase their success in finding employment. Upon release from prison Bnai Darfur formally established itself.
Refugees from Darfur, the survivors of a long-standing war crime and genocide in Darfur/Sudan, have been fleeing to big cities and neighboring countries, such as Chad and Egypt, seeking safety. In Egypt, the situation of Sudanese refugees is dire; they lack basic rights, are on the verge of starvation, and suffer from frequent harassment by the authorities. During a protest in December 2005, 27 people were killed by Egyptian police, while many others were injured, detained and deported back to Sudan. Consequently, Darfurians have fled to Israel as the only Western-orientated democratic country to be reached by land. Currently, there are approximately 5,500 Darfurian refugees living in Israel, only 578 of whom gained a temporary status while the vast majority is left without any legal status nor working permissions.
Our Goals at a Glance
Bnai Darfur is committed to addressing these challenges in the following ways:
- · To ensure that the basic needs of every refugee are met including housing, employment, medical care and education
- · To ensure that refugees are educated about their rights and have access to those who can help realize them
- · To advance and empower women and youth, by encouraging education and increasing accessibility to educational and employment opportunities
- · To build a strong sense of community among refugees and a network for mutual aid
- · To reunite refugees with lost and displaced relatives
- · To provide our community with education and skills to be prepared for a return to our home country, once peace has been achieved in Darfur
- · To raise the level of awareness of the genocide in Darfur and the plight of refugees living in Israel, within Israel and international community.
Since our founding in 2007, we have achieved the following:
- · We have found housing for more than 55 families and assisted some 3,000 single refugees in employment and housing.
- · We have conducted in-depth interviews and registration of some 4,045 Darfuris.
- · In cooperation with another NGO called Mesila and the Tel Aviv Municipality, we have registered 700 children for school as well as 65 unaccompanied minors to boarding schools.
- · We have established regular Hebrew and English language classes for adults.
Our presence in Israel, and meetings with government officials, has raised awareness of the genocide occurring in Darfur. This activism has encouraged Israeli people to assist our community in Israel and advocate on behalf of ending the genocide in Darfur.
Bnai Darfur is committed to ensuring that our community realizes its potential to be positive and contributing members of Israeli society while using our strong position to assist other, less fortunate, refugee communities in Israel. We hope you will support us in these efforts.
Additional Information provided by the Refugees’ Rights Forum and the Hotline for Migrant Workers (HMW):
How and why did the asylum seekers come to Israel?
Almost all the asylum seekers crossed the border from Egypt to Israel. Since April 2007, there has been an increase in the number of asylum seekers arriving; most of them claim that their lives will be in danger if they are deported. The act of crossing the border is dangerous in itself; the media keep on reporting cases in which asylum seekers have been shot and killed by Egyptian soldiers, and in at least one case asylum seekers were murdered after they were apprehended.
For year Egypt granted minimum protection to refugees in its territory, refraining from deporting them to their country of origin, although even this protection is no longer forthcoming in practice. During 2008 Egypt deported more than a thousand asylum seekers to Eritrea and Sudan. Israel, too, fails to meet its obligations to asylum seekers and refugees in accordance with the UN convention, thus jeopardizing their lives and liberty. Refugees who are arrested in Egypt are held in extremely harsh conditions tantamount to inhuman punishment and treatment, in violation of international human rights conventions.