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Israel grants few requests for refugee status

Oct. 16, 2013 at 1:01 PM

JERUSALEM, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Israel has granted refugee status to a tiny fraction of those who have requested it, officials say.

The Population, Immigration, and Borders Authority reported to a committee of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, Tuesday that four people received refugee status this year while 2,593 applied for it, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Since 2009, 26 requests have been granted, and 17,194 have sought to be classified as refugees.

The authority reported that 1,133 people have applied to be allowed to stay in Israel for humanitarian reasons, and 540 received it.

The Knesset committee on foreign workers is considering how to deal with a Supreme Court decision that overturned an amendment to the immigration law that allows applicants for refugee status to be jailed for up to three years while their requests are considered. One proposal on the table would reduce the period to a year and a half and specify asylum-seekers must be held in open prisons.

Most asylum seekers in Israel are from the African countries of Eritrea and Sudan.

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