By Toby Collins
August 18, 2012 (LONDON) - Sudanese citizens seeking asylum in Israel are being issued with South Sudanese documents in order to deport them, according to a report published on Saturday.
- Sudanese refugee in Israel (AFP/Getty)
The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) claim that over 100 asylum seekers currently in Israel, holding passports or birth certificates which show them to have been born within the territory of Sudan, have been issued with documents which classify them as South Sudanese citizens.
Israel has no repatriation agreement with Sudan making it impossible to send asylum seekers to Khartoum. Since South Sudan seceded in 2011 Juba has established a transitional constitution and independent diplomatic ties, including agreements of cooperation with Khartoum’s old foe, Tel Aviv.
Four Sudanese citizens were recently flown to South Sudan, where they were refused entry and returned to Tel Aviv according BIJ.
The African Refugee Development Center, an NGO operating in Israel, claims to have seen the documents of 70 Sudanese citizens who have now been re-classified as South Sudanese by Israel, thus legitimatising their deportation.
Many of those facing deportation are from the embattled Nuba Mountains; a region of Sudan near the border with South Sudan. Conflict between the Sudanese army (SAF) and rebels has killed and displaced thousands of its people.
In May Human Rights Watch reported that “according to Sudanese civil society and humanitarian groups,” more than 350,000 people have been internally displaced within South Kordofan; the region which includes the Nuba mountains.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said in April Yida refugee camp, across the border in South Sudan, was receiving 200 new refugees a day.
The Nuba people being re-nationalised as South Sudanese have been informed that if they do not leave Israel voluntarily they will face imprisonment.
In June the Jerusalem Administrative Court ruled against a petition filed by human rights groups aimed at preventing the expulsion of people classified as South Sudanese and arrests began.
In the same month hundreds of African asylum seekers marched on the UN offices in Tel Aviv, calling for fair treatment in the face of incendiary political rhetoric.
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has said that “the breach of our borders by infiltrators could threaten the Jewish and democratic state […] we will begin by removing the infiltrators from South Sudan and move on to others.”
Also, Israel’s interior minister, Eli Yishai, has said “Muslims that arrive here do not even believe that this country belongs to us, to the white man.”
Amid violent, 1,00-strong anti-immigrant protests in May in which African residents were attacked, Miri Regev, a legislator and member of Knesset (the legislative arm of the Israeli government), said that Sudanese refugees are a “cancer in our body.”