Israeli Leader to Deport African Asylum Seekers

John Tanza

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu orders South Sudanese and other African asylum seekers to leave the country.

June 13, 2012 (VOA News) – The leader of South Sudanese community in Tel Aviv says the recent decision by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to deport 25,000 immigrants from Ethiopia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and South Sudan is against the U.N. Charter on refugees and asylum seekers.

Simon Mayar said South Sudanese living in Israel are being threatened by Jewish hardliners to leave Israel or face trouble. Mayer said top Israeli officials are behaving as if they have never heard about the ongoing violence in South Sudan and border fighting between Sudan and South Sudan.

“They know exactly what is going on in South Sudan, because many officials, even the Israeli ambassador has been to South Sudan, so they know that [the South Sudanese] need more time,” he said.

VOA correspondent Scott Bobb in Jerusalem said more than 100 South Sudanese have been arrested and are to be deported soon. Many South Sudanese say they are willing to be deported with some financial help to get back home. For three days, Israeli immigration authorities have been rounding up African migrants in a new push to deport illegal aliens.

Mayar said he is encouraging South Sudanese people to register with Israeli immigration officials so they can be deported without being arrested.

Asylum seeker Michael Bazia, who lives in Arad in Southern Israel, says the South Sudanese would like to go home, but he too says they need more time. He said the situation in South Sudan is too dangerous for people to return now.

“Every day [Sudan President Omar al] Bashir is bombing 24 hours, every day,” he said. “Even yesterday, Bashir was talking security issues” [at the peace talks in Addis Ababa].

Israeli residents have recently staged violent, racially-motivated attacks against African nationals. Israeli residents accuse African immigrants of causing the crime rate to rise in recent months.

Human rights activists are protesting, saying the Israeli government should first determine the asylum status of immigrants before deporting them.

The government of South Sudan is dispatching a delegation to oversee the deportation process in Tel Aviv.

VOA News