Refugees from the Ivory Coast gathered in Tel Aviv Sunday morning to protest the government's plan to deport them back to the war-torn African country by the end of May.
More than 100 refugees - a majority of whom live in south Tel Aviv near the central bus station - held up signs with phrases such as "deportation equals death," and marched in the courtyard outside of the Marc Rich Israel Cinematheque.The Population and Immigration Authority, which had granted the refugees protection in Israel, determined that Ivory Coast, plagued by violence since a civil war erupted in 2002, is now safe enough for them to return. The authority had initially ordered that the refugees return to their homeland by the end of January or face deportation, but refugees filed a petition with the court seeking an extension of their protection in Israel.
A Jerusalem judge approved the authority's decision earlier this month and ordered the refugees' repatriation by May 31. The refugees plan to file a petition with the Supreme Court on Monday or Tuesday, their attorney said.