Yishai: I'll work to deport all Sudanese, Eritreans

Interior minister speaks as 123 S. Sudanese prepare to board flight to Juba; deportees express anger, relief at journey home.

June 17, 2012 22:44
Migrants dance with South Sudanese flag

Migrants dance with South Sudanese flag 370. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)


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The deportation of the 700- 1,500 South Sudanese in Israel barely scratches the surface of solving the migrant problem facing the country, Interior Minister Eli Yishai said Sunday evening, as a group of 123 South Sudanese prepared to board a midnight flight home to Juba.

Yishai said the real problem “is with Eritrea that has 30,000 people [in Israel] and north Sudan with 15,000,” adding that he hopes “that the legal obstacles to this will be lifted soon and we can expel them as well.”

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Yishai admitted that the South Sudanese make up only a “drop within a drop” of the 60,000 or so African migrants in Israel, but added that deporting them is a “national interest” and that if he “has to chose between the interests of Israel and the interests of the Sudanese, I will choose Israel.”

Currently Israel cannot legally deport migrants from Sudan, an enemy state where they would stand to face persecution upon return, or Eritreans, who are citizens of a police state and would potentially be in grave danger if sent back. As a result, both groups are granted group protection status and cannot be deported, giving them de-facto refugee status without the rights that refugee status affords.

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