Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel


photo: Activestills


Deportation to South Sudan


On 31.01.12, the then Minister of the Interior, Eli Yishai, decided to order the entire South Sudanese community in Israel to leave the country by the end of March 2012. Although that community constituted a small proportion of the asylum-seekers in Israel (700-1,000, including more than 400 children), the deportation began in June 2012, after rejection of the administrative petition submitted by Assaf and other human rights organizations against withdrawal of group protection from South Sudanese asylum-seekers and after a public campaign conducted by the Association against the deportation.

As part of the public campaign, we published frequent updates on South Sudan: we conducted a widespread campaign on the Internet which won considerable attention; a campaign in the media which printed dozens of items on this issue; we recruited prominent intellectuals and artists for the struggle; we contacted Knesset members and various public figures; together with Avaaz we collected thousands of signatures for a petition against the deportation; we organized demonstrations and acted together with members of the South Sudanese community in order to revoke  the deportation order. The public struggle brought the story of the South Sudanese refugees to public attention and generated resistance to the decision to deport them. However, in the first half of 212, incitement and racist hostility towards refugees intensified, reaching new depths and providing fertile soil for implementation of the decision.

With the commencement of the deportation, which was described as "voluntary return" by the Interior Ministry, Assaf received requests regarding South Sudanese children in placement outside their homes (at boarding schools) who were due to be deported with their families. On June 20 2012, we submitted a petition to the High Court against the Ministries of Welfare and the Interior, through Adv. Yonatan Berman (of the Human Rights Section of the Ramat Gan Academic Center) requesting that boys and girls removed from parental custody voluntarily or by youth court order be returned to their parents only after examination by the relevant welfare authorities, or alternatively after the youth court has examined the case and determined that they are no longer at risk.

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