South Sudanese protest against deportation 370.
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Only three days before South Sudanese in Israel were to face potential
deportations, the Jerusalem District Court issued an injunction Thursday
delaying any deportations until April 15.
The decision was in response to
a petition issued earlier in the day by a series of NGOs including the
Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Hotline for Migrant Workers, the
African Refugee Development Center, the Assaf Aid Organization for Refugees and
Asylum Seekers in Israel and Physicians for Human Rights.
argued that returning South Sudanese to their home country at this point in time
would gravely endanger their lives, considering the dire living conditions and
sporadic fighting plaguing the country.
Also Thursday, the Foreign
Ministry sent a letter to the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority
(PIBA), asking for them to consider delaying the deportations, so that the
ministry can have more time to examine the situation on the ground in South
As of Sunday, April 1, the community of around 1,000 South
Sudanese in Israel was to face deportations in keeping with a government
decision announced by PIBA on January 31. PIBA stated that following the
establishment of South Sudan as an independent country last July, they will no
longer be considered refugees come April 1 and should prepare their
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Thursday that the
letter sent to PIBA asked for them to wait while the ministry discusses the
matter with an envoy sent by the Foreign Ministry to Juba. The envoy was
scheduled to return on Thursday and will brief the ministry on the situation on
the ground in Juba.
Palmor said the ministry asked for more time so that
they can examine the envoy’s recommendations about returning South Sudanese to
their country, as well as opinions from sources in the international community
on the matter. Palmor said the recommendations could encourage them to request
that the government extend group protection for South Sudanese.
added that the ministry did not ask for any specific time frame, contrary to
reports Thursday in the Israeli press.
Sabine Haddad from PIBA confirmed
that the organization had received the letter on Thursday but added that the
decision about extending group protection for South Sudanese lies with the Prime