Sunday, December 31, 2006

Say What, Israeli Refugees in Canada?

One doesn't expect to find a story involving Canada when readin the Israeli paper, Haaretz. But there it was, an account of Israeli citizens seeking refugee status in Canada. According to the report, 679 Israelis sought asylum abroad in 2005, most of them in the True North:

"Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) has asked Israel's National Council for the Child for information on immigrant children in Israel. Canadian authorities want to know whether immigrant children in Israel are being harassed or abused, in order to evaluate political asylum cases.

"In 2005, 679 Israeli citizens sought asylum abroad, mainly in Canada. Some 200 requests were approved, mainly of citizens of the former Soviet Union who came to Israel but left claiming they were persecuted, because of their origin or religion.

"In a letter last month, the IRB asked the council whether it could provide examples of mistreatment of immigrant children; whether children of immigrants from the former Soviet Union were subject to harm at school or violence in their neighborhoods, and whether certain groups of immigrant children were more at risk of abuse than others. The Canadian authorities also sought to understand how the Israeli government has been responding to reports of abuse of immigrant children, and how effective their response has been thus far.

"The head of the Council for the Child, Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, said in response that official bodies do not have clear policies that put immigrant children at a disadvantage, but that these children encounter problems typical of an immigrant population. For example, the number of immigrant children involved in crime and substance abuse is proportionally high, and investment in education and welfare programs to deal with these crises is insufficient.

"Kadman further responded that immigrant children are not particular victims of violence or abuse in the schools. With regard to immigrant children as an at-risk group, he reported that children from the Central Asian republics have had an especially hard time adjusting, as do children arriving in Israel on tourist visas who do not have legal residency in Israel."

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