HRW urges Israel to not jail Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers


Eritrean refugees hold placards during a protest against the Eritrean government outside their embassy in Tel Aviv in 2015. (Reuters Photo)

January 22, 2018 (KHARTOUM) – Human Rights Watch Monday has urged Israel to not jail Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers for their refusal to leave for Uganda and Rwanda, pointing they have the right to request protection.

“In the latest chapter of its longstanding quest to dodge its refugee protection duties, Israel is threatening to lock up thousands of asylum seekers who refuse to leave,” said Gerry Simpson, associate refugee director at Human Rights Watch.

“Instead of jailing them, Israel should fairly identify and protect refugees among them,” further said Simpson in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune.

Between 2006 to 2012 over 50,000 Eritrean and Sudanese entered into Israel through Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. But they have been unable to obtain protection because “Israel’s unfair asylum system has either prevented or discouraged them from lodging asylum claims or has unfairly dismissed their claims,” said the group.

The UNHCR says that Israel has granted only 10 Eritreans and 1 Sudanese refugee status since 2009. Also, Human Rights Watch said that about 700 Sudanese from Darfur region have been authorized to remain in the country for humanitarian reasons, which is granted on a discretionary basis.

As some 14,000 left the country since 2013, the Israeli immigration authority estimate there were 27,018 Eritreans and 7,731 Sudanese in Israel as of March 2, 2017.

The new Israeli government plans announced since last year provide to resettle the Eritrean and Sudanese nationals in Rwanda or Uganda by the end of March 2018.

The government want all Eritrean and Sudanese return to their country or move to a third country by the end of March. It promises US$3,500 to those who agree to leave, less if they leave voluntarily after March.

Any recalcitrant who “does not voluntarily agree to leave” will face “enforcement and deportation proceedings.” Further, anyone who “does not voluntarily agree to leave” will face “enforcement and deportation proceedings.”

The Human Rights Watch urged Israel to review the current asylum mechanisms and find out why Eritrean and Sudanese refugees have been affected by these procedures.

“Now that the UN refugee agency has confirmed that Israel’s asylum procedures for Eritreans and Sudanese are deeply flawed, the Israeli authorities should drop their charade and urgently and fairly re-review all their claims,” Simpson said.

(ST)