Israel to Deport Sudanese Refugees
- Israel considering deportation of Sudanese refugees to Kenya
By Shahar Ilan
Israel is considering sending African refugees to Kenya and is engaged
in diplomatic talks on the issue. It has also resumed jailing Sudanese
refugees who seep into the country along the Egyptian border.
However, several people dealing with the refugees doubt that Kenya is
interested in accepting them. They said Monday that the plan was
probably Israel's alone. The UN is also expected to object.
The UN returns the refugees to south Sudan via Kenya.
Israel is refraining from returning to Egypt the refugees who made it
across the border because Egypt sends them to Sudan, where they are
expected to be executed for seeking asylum in Israel.
Michael Bavli, the representative of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees in Jerusalem, said he was not aware of
negotiations between Israel and Kenya.
"I assume the UN will not agree to taking refugees against their will
back to Africa," he said.
The chairman of the Knesset Interior Committee, Ophir Pines-Paz, said
he objects to returning the refugees to Africa. Pines said Israel must
take in a significant number of refugees and reach an agreement with
other countries to take the rest.
Attorney Anat Ben Dor of Tel Aviv University's clinic for refugee
rights said transferring the refugees to a country where they could be
imprisoned in a refugee camp would be illegal. The IDF on Monday
jailed 12 Sudanese men. Their women and children were left to manage
on their own.
The jailing policy, which was carried out until April this year,
caused humanitarian problems because the women and children found it
difficult to fend for themselves in a foreign country while the heads
of their families were in prison.
Due to prison overcrowding and the objection of civil rights groups,
the Israel Defense Forces put an end to the jailing policy until its
In recent weeks the IDF would arrest the refugees but leave them
outside police stations because the army is not allowed to hold
refugees for more than 24 hours. Non-profit organizations would take
the refugees off the street, treat them, and help them to find jobs.
Meanwhile, the ministers' committee to solve the refugee problem has
completed its findings. These include blocking the southern border by
increased military activity and building a fence along the border.
Interior Minister Roni Bar-On on Monday presented Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert with the committee's recommendations, and a debate with all
those involved with the refugee issue is due to be held next week.
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