In the past week, we have been asked one question over and over again: how will the normalization between Israel and Sudan affect asylum seekers? This question came our way from journalists, volunteers, activists, and most importantly – members of the Sudanese community here in Israel, who expressed grave concern in light of the developments. The fear grew when rumors spread by politicians mentioned a possible deportation, now that Sudan is no longer an enemy country to Israel.
During the weekend, as misinformation and fear both increased, we realized that there was a burning need to cut through the noise and clarify the truth of the matter. First, we posted a clarification to the community on our Arabic-language Telegram channel and our international Facebook page, and sent reporters five concise points about the situation of Sudanese asylum seekers. In short: just last month, the State argued before the High Court that it was not possible to decide on the asylum applications submitted by Sudanese asylum seekers, in light of the instability in Sudan. Israel has no way to deport asylum seekers whose asylum claims haven’t been examined, as is the case with over 5,000 unchecked asylum claims from Sudanese citizens in Israel. Normalization does not change any of these facts.
The Hotline’s Public Policy Director, Sigal Rozen, explains why there will not be a deportation to Sudan on i24 News in English.
This roller coaster began last February, when Prime Minister Netanyahu traveled to Uganda to meet with Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan. We shared the shock expressed by many in the Sudanese community when the Israeli Prime Minister shook the hand of a general who helped organize and coordinate the genocide in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains, and the Blue Nile regions. But even in the midst of our dismay, we were pleased when many journalists who approached us regarding this topic wanted to hear from asylum seekers themselves. Following the normalization deal, this trend continued full force, and we were thrilled to allow Sudanese asylum seekers to voice their own opinions about this historic development.
It is possible that the situation in Sudan will change in the future, but at the moment we must remember that Israel is still obligated to examine all the asylum applications submitted by Sudanese citizens. For over a decade, Israel has violated the rights of those who arrived here after fleeing genocide by ignoring their asylum claims and attempting to push them out of the country. The Hotline has never stopped fighting for asylum seekers’ basic right to submit their applications, and we will continue to fight until every last asylum application is decided once and for all. Help us continue to defend asylum seekers’ right to a life of dignity and security.
Dr. Ayelet Oz
Hotline for Refugees and Migrants