Home | News    Wednesday 27 December 2006

Israeli lawmakers receive Sudanese refugees from Darfur

Dec 26, 2006 (JERUSALEM) — Sudanese refugees in Israel were received yesterday in the Israeli parliament to request lawmakers help to get political asylum; the Jerusalem based Israel Today reported.

JPEG - 7.4 kb
A refugee from the Sudan peers through the bars of his prison cell at Maasiyahu Prison, Israel. (AP)

Sudanese refugees visited the Knesset Monday at the request of the committee for foreign laborers. The two refugees, Ahmad and Yassin, spoke about their horrible life story as they saw their family members murdered before their eyes, were themselves tortured by government agents, and were subjects of humiliation and abuse until they managed to cross the border from Egypt to Israel.

One of the refugees, who came to the committee in order to ask them to help him get political asylum, brought the Knesset members to tears. He addressed MK Sarah Marom-Shalev (Pensioner’s party) who was born in Romania and survived the Holocaust and asked her:

“Please, as a survivor of the Jewish Holocaust, please help the victims of the Sudanese holocaust. There was nobody who could have helped the Jews of WWII, but today the Jewish state is a strong democratic country and has the power to help survivors of a similar genocide.”

About 250 of Sudanese refugees managed to arrive in Israel and asked for political asylum, but instead of receiving protection, they were thrown in jail for long months because they are nationals of an enemy state.

The committee for the refugees of Darfur has so far managed to release about 50 of the refugees to kibbutzim and moshavim, and there is an ongoing public struggle to release those who remained in custody.

Technically the Sudanese are citizens of what Israel deems an enemy state and cannot stay. But their cause has been taken up by Holocaust campaigners and civil rights groups, who argue that Israel, of all countries, should give refuge to people fleeing genocide.

“We cannot ignore refugees of the Darfur genocide when they knock on our door,” Avner Shalev, the director of Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, said.

He had written to Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, comparing their plight to Jews who in vain sought sanctuary from European countries during the Second World War, reported The Times in June 2006.

(Israel Today/Times)