Data from Israel’s Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority shows that 3,165 Sudanese nationals – almost all from the horrifically war-torn Darfur region where slaughter of Christians and African Muslims by Arab tribes was commonplace – filed asylum requests between 2009 and February 2015. None of the asylum-seekers were given refugee status and many were imprisoned.
Since 2009, Israel’s Governments Granted Zero Asylum Requests To Darfur Refugees
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Data from Israel’s Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority shows that 3,165 Sudanese nationals – almost all from the horrifically war-torn Darfur region where slaughter of Christians and African Muslims by Arab tribes was commonplace – filed asylum requests between 2009 and February 2015.
But successive Israeli governments – all headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the right of center Likud Party – have only responded to 45 of those requests as of February 2015. None of the asylum-seekers were given refugee status and many were imprisoned, Ha’aretz reported, despite the fact that almost all of them qualify for refugee status under international law.
Now another Netanyahu-led government is claiming it can’t answer an asylum-seekers petition, this time because the new government has not yet decided on an overarching policy covering all asylum requests by people who fled Darfur.
The state’s new stalling tactic is contained in a response from the Population and Immigration Authority to an inquiry from Mutasim Ali. Ali is one of the leaders asylum-seekers from Darfur in Israel. He filed his own asylum request 2-1/2 years ago. The government has still not responded to it. But it did arrest Ali for being an “infiltrator” and imprison him in the Holot detention center in the Negev Desert. Ali, who has been held in Holot against his will for more than a year, is pursuing legal action to gain his freedom.
Be’er Sheva District Court President Joseph Elon ordered the government to “make every effort” to answer Ali’s asylum request by last Sunday, Ha’aretz reported, but the government failed to do so.
The Population and Immigration Authority defended its failure to comply with the court order in a letter to Ali’s volunteer attorney from the nonprofit Hotline for Refugees and Migrants.
“In recent months, there have been a number of discussions with senior officials at the ministry in an effort to come to a settled position for the Interior Ministry with regard to the Sudanese population from the Darfur region. However, the process of forming the new government and the appointment of a new interior minister have, due to the nature of things, led to a delay of a decision,” Population and Immigration Authority lawyer Shunit Shahar wrote, adding that Silvan Shalom only became interior minister three weeks ago. Even so, Shalom has already had two discussions on the issue, she claimed.
Shahar also wrote that the committee that hears asylum-seekers’ cases heard Ali’s case 1-1/2 weeks ago. But she did not divulge what, if anything, it decided.
Instead, she claimed that the members of the committee said Ali’s case could not be handled separately from the cases of all the other asylum-seekers from Darfur because Ali’s request raised general issues as well as issues specific only to his own case. She claimed a decision on Ali’s case would be made on June 24.
The idea that an overarching policy need be in place appears to fly in the face of previous government claims that each case had to evaluated individually and that no overarching policy could be made. The decision to wait for such an overarching policy to be crafted also appears to violate international law.
In his legal filings, Ali noted that the United Nations Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) previously recommended that he be given refugee status by Israel. Shahar, the Population and Immigration Authority’s lawyer, responded to that by insisting that the authority to make that decision was transferred to the Interior Ministry’s population authority in 2009, and the UNHCR’s opinion did not matter.
Human rights organizations in Israel and worldwide condemn Israel for what they say – and what the evidence appears to clearly prove – is a policy of intentional foot-dragging and harassment meant to force legitimate refugees who are not Jewish to leave Israel – even if that means they will likely die or be tortured.
“The first of the people from Darfur came to Israel about 10 years ago. Since then, [the government] has been telling us they are not refugees but rather ‘illegal infiltrators.’ Over the past three years, they have also been imprisoning them at Prison Service facilities by virtue of the three amendments to the illegal infiltration law,” Hotline for Migrant Workers lawyer Asaf Weitzen told Ha’aretz.
“More than a year ago, the Interior Ministry informed the Supreme Court that [the cases of] asylum seekers were being examined in a professional manner and that priority was being given to Mutasim [Ali] and all of those like him who were being held by the Prison Service,” Weitzen continued. “Now, however, we discover that the decisions are not professional [in nature] but are dependent upon the political level and that there isn’t and never has been any priority regarding the asylum requests of Mutasim and the others from Darfur; that up to now, the Interior Ministry hasn’t even bothered to devise a position regarding them. An end must be put to the unfair treatment of asylum seekers…”
The government’s Population and Immigration Authority rejected all of those complaints.
“This involves a complex and important issue, which requires attention to our position on the subject,” the Authority reportedly said.