Court delays deportation of South Sudanese

Just 3 days before potential forced deportations, Jerusalem court issues injunction barring move until mid-April.

South Sudanese protest against deportation 370 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
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.
The petitioners 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 Sudan.
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 departure.
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.
Palmor 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 Minister’s Office.