Religion & Beliefs

Sudanese Refugees in Israel Granted Temporary Residency

A while back we told you about the plight of Sudanese refugees who had arrived in Israel via Egypt. They were jailed, stuck on army bases, or placed under house arrest on kibbutzim while the Israeli government tried to find … Read More

By / February 27, 2008

A while back we told you about the plight of Sudanese refugees who had arrived in Israel via Egypt. They were jailed, stuck on army bases, or placed under house arrest on kibbutzim while the Israeli government tried to find other countries to send them to in coordination with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Sudan is considered an enemy country, so Sudanese refugees aren’t eligible for asylum in Israel.

Thanks in large part to intense lobbying by NGOs, Knesset members, and people like Elie Wiesel and Aliza Olmert–the prime minister's wife–these refugees are now newly free, and are official residents of the Jewish state: More than 600 Sudanese refugees from Darfur have been granted temporary residency in Israel. Israel also gave work permits to about 2,000 refugees from Eritrea whose lives would be endangered if sent home.

Tempering this happy news is the report that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has directed authorities to expel 4,500 Africans, including people from Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria, by the end of the week. Olmert's office declined to discuss the expulsion order, but it’s going to be difficult to locate the immigrants, who are likely scattered around the country, and even more difficult to figure out where to send them. Human rights groups are afraid that if sent back to a Muslim country, they will be persecuted for spending time in a Jewish state.

Related: Sudanese Refugees in Israel