S. Sudanese rally in TA against deportation

The state has set an April 1 deadline for South Sudanese to return to their newly-established state.

South Sudanese protest against deportation 370 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
South Sudanese protest against deportation 370
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
More than a thousand South Sudanese and their supporters protested near the Tel Aviv Cinematheque on Saturday night under the banner “South Sudan is dangerous,” to ask for more time in Israel before returning to their country. They are due to be deported this month.
On January 31, the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority said that because South Sudanese now have their own country, and one that has friendly relations with Israel, they have until April 1 to leave Israel willingly or face deportation. Those who leave by the deadline will receive 1,000 euros per adult.
Protesters said they were not looking to stay in Israel indefinitely, but that due to the unstable nature of life in the country founded last July, being sent back now would place their lives in danger.
Members of the community and Israeli NGOs say there about 700 South Sudanese in Israel, while the Population, Immigration, and Borders Authority says the figure is around 3,000. In any case, they make up a small part of the more than 50,000 African asylum-seekers in Israel, the vast majority of whom are from Eritrea or Sudan.
According to authority spokeswoman Sabine Haddad, as of April 1 every time that Interior Ministry immigration patrols encounter South Sudanese migrants, they will have the option of arresting them, and sending them either to jail or to South Sudan.
Haddad added that since the announcement was made at the end of January, she does not know of any South Sudanese who has submitted an appeal to the Interior Ministry asking to stay in Israel.
South Sudan ranks near the bottom in almost every quality of life indicator and is severely lacking infrastructure, schools, hospitals and safe drinking water. While the desperate conditions and the continuing tensions with the north, that is with Sudan, could endanger many of those returning, because they do not face political persecution from the government in Juba, they have difficulty making a case that they are still political refugees.
Orit Marom of the refugee assistance organization “Asaf” said that the price of the cabinet decision to deport the South Sudanese “will be possible death, from war or famine, for many of those children who are here tonight.”
The demonstration was met by a few dozen counter-protesters who came to show support for the deportations.
Speaking of an “occupation” of Israel by “African infiltrators,” they described the migrants from South Sudan and across Africa as devastating for the quality of life in their neighborhoods, most of which were impoverished long before the influx of African migrants began in recent years.
One of the leaders of the counterprotest, city councilman and/ Hatikva neighborhood resident and activist Shlomo Maslawi, said the migrants have brought “a total collapse in the health and social services of the areas where they live. We are afraid and we no longer feel at home in our own neighborhoods.”
Natalina Kerba, a mother of three from South Sudan who has lived in Israel for six years, came from Nahariya to attend the protest. She spoke for many of the protesters when she asked the crowd from the stage on Saturday night, “Is there anyone here who would send their children to a place with no clean water, without enough food, to a place with no security?”