Table 1

Terminology and definitions

MigrantUmbrella term for those who move away from their country of origin for a variety of reasons. This term is not legally defined. Certain types of migrants are legally defined and may legally reside in Israel despite not being legal residents, such as work migrants with valid work visas.3
Asylum seekersLegal term for those fleeing their country and applying for international protection in another country who have not yet been determined as refugees. However, in Israel, due to a dysfunctional asylum system that did not allow many to even submit RSD applications, the term asylum seekers is used by PHRI more broadly to refer to those claiming to flee from persecution, even if they did not submit an actual individual asylum request. In our paper, this term refers mainly to African asylum seekers, primarily from Eritrea and Sudan, who receive group protection against expulsion to their countries of origin. Nevertheless, they are not granted refugee status; less than 1% of requests for asylum in Israel of Eritreans and Sudanese have been approved, compared with 71.5% of Eritreans worldwide and 63% of Sudanese, as per UNHCR figures.33
RefugeesThose fleeing country of origin due to persecution who receive legal recognition as such from the host country. This definition is defined by the 1951 Refugee Convention. Thus far, Israel refuses to grant refugee status to most asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan.34
Undocumented migrantsThose residing in Israel without legal documentation. It can include migrant workers whose work permit expired, tourists whose visa expired, as well as asylum seekers whose request for asylum was rejected by the RSD unit and who have not received blanket protection (Eritrean, Sudanese and Congolese nationals currently receive such blanket protection regardless of their individual RSD application status).34
Displaced personsThose who have been forced or obliged to leave their homes to avoid the effects of armed conflict or natural or human-made disasters. This includes internally displaced people. Palestinians may be viewed as internally displaced.
Legal residents of IsraelThose who fulfil various criteria set by the Population and Border Authority and the Bituah Leumi Law, including for example, various affinities to Israel such as through marriage.
  • PHRI, Physicians for Human Rights Israel; RSD, Refugee Status Determination; UNHCR, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.