An independent group of asylum seekers protested in front of the Knesset on Wednesday morning, calling on the government to release savings worth approximately NIS 285 million that is currently being withheld in special deposit funds.Calling on the government to "give us our money" and holding plates without food, demonstrators from Israel's Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seeker community warned of the worsening impact of the coronavirus outbreak on their financial situation. According to the 2017 "Deposit Law," 20% of salaries received by asylum seekers are placed in deposit accounts held at Mizrahi Bank, and the funds are only accessible when either leaving Israel or receiving official refugee status. Employment termination compensation must also be paid directly into the accounts.The deposit accounts hold an estimated NIS 285m. today, which could prove vital to the asylum seekers' economic survival and be immediately reinvested into the economy through rent payments and other expenses."Israeli citizens and residents are entitled to rights benefits such as unemployment insurance, welfare, special grants for children, the elderly and the disabled, welfare, bank loans, and more," said Monim Haroon, an asylum seeker who fled from Darfur and one of the campaign leaders."Most asylum seekers aren’t eligible for any of these things. The government must release our money now, to prevent a real humanitarian disaster."It is estimated that over half of the 31,000-strong Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seeker community has been out of work for weeks, with many working in shuttered hotels and restaurants. Due to their complex legal status, most are ineligible for unemployment insurance or other benefits.Local activists have reported increasing calls from asylum seekers, warning that they are unable to pay for food, health insurance and rent. Fears have also been voiced regarding the economic stability of individuals in disadvantaged neighborhoods who rely on economic contributions from the significant asylum seeker community.Attending the protest, Meretz chairman MK Nitzan Horowitz said that it is "in the interest of all of Israeli society to enable [asylum seekers] to simply exist," blaming the abuse of asylum seekers on "intolerable political considerations" in the Knesset."The number of families reporting economic distress is growing every day. It will be much harder to deal with the consequences later on if we don’t address the problem now," said activist Sigal Kook Avivi."It makes no sense that the solution is right before our eyes and won’t cost the government a cent, yet the government is doing nothing. After all, the deposit funds belong to the refugees. The solution is right here."