Asylum seekers protest against the deportation in south Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: REBECCA MONTAG)
Several NGOs filed a petition to the Jerusalem District Court on Sunday night asking it to block the state from expelling hundreds of Congolese migrants who have lived in the state for around 15 years.
In October, the state removed the temporary protected status that it had given hundreds of Congolese migrants for over a decade. This led to opposition from the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants.
Initially, the NGO attacked the policy shift, which was coordinated by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, the Population Immigration and Borders Authority (PIBA) and the Foreign Ministry, as being problematic because it was not publicized effectively.
Although a post appeared on the PIBA website, if migrants did not know where to look they would not have seen it.
According to the hotline, the policy shift meant that all Congolese migrants would need to leave Israel within 90 days, or by January 5 as the ministries determined that there was no legal bar to being deporting from Israel.
Sunday’s petition included extensive arguments, including numerous international sources who indicated that the situation in the Congo is highly volatile and could turn at any time into civil war.
The African country has been ruled since 2001 by dictator Joseph Kabila. Though historic democratic elections were set to be held in Congo on Sunday, there are numerous reports of ongoing brutal arrests of political opponents.
Additional reports said that false accusations were made against members of the opposition, as well as against government forces who have been allegedly carrying out executions without trial and torture. Armed clashes Include serious war crimes and have led to millions of displaced persons and refugees fleeing to neighboring countries.
Moreover, reports mention Congolese women being routinely raped as part of the ongoing fighting and persecution between ethnic groups.
The hotline and the other NGOs called on the High court to block any process to deport the migrants at least until after the Congolese elections. The petitioners also demanded that the state publicize its legal opinion on the expulsion of the Congolese migrants.
The state has not responded to complaints from the hotline so far, but the state will need to present its position before the court in the coming days.