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Save the Children begins Tel Aviv refugee project

Save the Children said refugee children in Israel were at risk due to being sent to unlicensed day care centres

    African migrants protest in front of the UNHCR office demanding asylum and work rights from the Israeli government in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. (Photo AP)
    African migrants protest in front of the UNHCR office demanding asylum and work rights from the Israeli government in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. (Photo AP)

    A humanitarian organisation that has been accused of running a “campaign against Israel” has announced it is launching a project to help refugee families living in Tel Aviv.

    Save the Children said refugee children in Israel were at risk due to being sent to unlicensed day care centres “located in the commercial sex district.”

    The charity has set aside £250,000 to support refugee families from Eritrea and South Sudan.

    But Jerusalem-based watchdog NGO Monitor said the charity went from not issuing statements relating to Israel between July 2015 and August 2017 to resuming its “campaign against Israel” in the past few months.

    It said that if Save the Children was to fulfil its “humanitarian agenda” it should return to “a policy of providing aid without adopting the Palestinian political narrative, which is destructive and further fuels the conflict.”

    Earlier this year Save the Children called on Israel to lift restrictions on Gaza saying there were one million children in Gaza in “unliveable” conditions.

    Alan Parker, chairman of Save the Children, denied claims that the charity’s work was political: “This new project is not about criticising Israel or the government. The refugee crisis is happening all over the world and it is a problem no one could have foreseen.”

    He also denied that support from the Jewish community had suffered after it was involved with an appeal that included the charity Islamic Relief, whose events have occasionally featured speakers with extreme views — such as Hamas supporter Haitham al Haddad.

    Pressed further on the matter, Mr Parker preferred to focus on the refugee project.

    He said refugees living in Tel Aviv were not entitled to automatic citizenship, “leaving them without access to key social support and employment.

    “They are limited to illegal low paid employment and they can’t afford childcare, resulting in their children being left with unregulated centres.”

    The organisation has partnered with Mesila — an Israeli aid and treatment centre — to provide assistance to 6,000 displaced children and their families.

    A spokesman for Save the Children said: “In Israel today there are an estimated 38,000 refugees and asylum seekers, almost 70 per cent of them live in Tel Aviv. There are approximately 6,000 children in Tel Aviv and over 4,000 of them are aged between 0-6, representing 15 per cent of the overall population of 0-6 year olds in the city.”

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