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Reuniting Refugee Families Campaign

When fleeing to safety, many refugees are tragically separated from their families. Though human rights law upholds the importance of family, the sad reality is that many refugees spend years separated from their loved ones. A major reason is that the process of family reunification is long and complicated. Since 2009, the Relocation Project at the African Refugee Development Center (ARDC) has assisted hundreds of families in this process through individualized casework support, regular follow-up, research and direct advocacy to embassies and NGOs. However, many more families still need our assistance. Please support ARDC in reuniting refugees with their families.

How ARDC Helps: Buru’s Story

In 2008, Buru escaped Eritrea and its brutal dictatorship, leaving behind his wife Senait and his baby girl Rim. He made it safely to Israel but was not allowed to reunite with them there. In 2014, his wife and daughter arrived in the Netherlands, and for the first time in years Buru felt he could see them again.

Buru approached ARDC to help him with the family reunification procedure. However, the process did not go as planned. Buru was summoned to the Holot detention center in the Negev desert, and his temporary Israeli visa was canceled. The Dutch Migration Authority rejected his application for family reunification because he lacked a valid Israeli residency permit. Together with the Dutch Refugee Council and the Dutch Embassy in Israel, ARDC accompanied Buru through each step of the reunification procedure and facilitated the communication with the various state authorities.

At the end of 2015, Buru finally received the documents to fly to the Netherlands. He celebrated Christmas together with his family for the first time in 7 years, and the first time ever with his daughter Rim.

Our Campaign

Background: The majority of African asylum seekers in Israel fled from Eritrea and Sudan, countries known for human rights violations including forced labor, torture and genocide. Their journey to Israel was not easy, and many asylum seekers risked being captured or tortured along the way. However, Israel recognizes less than 1% of the asylum seekers as refugees. They receive only a temporary status in Israel and lack the services and support they need. Without their families, they risk increased isolation in their current situations, and it is even more difficult for them to emotionally deal with the trauma of their past experiences. Though some refugees have family who have escaped to other countries, the asylum seekers in Israel face difficulties in reuniting with them due to their lack of status and rejected recognition as refugees.

What We Do: The African Refugee Development Center (ARDC) is a grassroots, community-based, non-profit organization that was founded in 2004 by African asylum seekers and Israeli citizens, in order to assist, protect and empower African refugees and asylum seekers in Israel. To date, the ARDC has served over 12,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Eritrea, Sudan, Ethiopia and other countries. Our current projects provide paralegal assistance and educational services to African asylum seekers in Israel, as well as raising awareness with local and international audiences. The Reuniting Refugee Families Campaign is part of our paralegal project. In 2015 alone, ARDC assisted more than 200 families with the family reunification process.

Learn More: To learn more about our work, please read our 2015 Annual Report.

Support Us: Many more families still need our assistance. Please share our campaign, donate and help us reunite separated families.

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