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Asylum seekers from Eritrea at a meeting with the refugee support group, Hotline for Migrant Workers, in Eilat, Israel, November 2017. The advocacy group says the expulsion order will “put the refugees’ lives in danger” / Photo: Hotline for Migrant Workers

UN experts demand immediate stop to expulsions from Israel

Israel’s deportation of Eritrean and Sudanese citizens to third countries “violates human rights and international law on refugees,” according to UN experts, who are calling on the Israeli government to review its policy.

A group of UN human rights experts has said that the new Israeli policies for deporting Eritrean and Sudanese citizens present in its territory “violates human rights and laws on refugees.” The group is calling on Israeli authorities to immediately suspend deportations and to review these policies and their implementation.

Deportations and indefinite detentions

According to the UN experts, with these policies “tens of thousands of Eritrean and Sudanese nationals, who are among the largest groups of foreign nationals seeking refuge in Israel, will be forcibly sent to unnamed third countries. Recent reports show that at least seven Eritreans have been detained indefinitely for refusing to be deported.”

In a joint statement, the experts said they are “concerned that the provisions of this policy and its implementation seriously undermine the rights of Eritrean and Sudanese nationals under international human rights law, refugee, labour and humanitarian law.”

Concern over future developments

Israel’s new policy permits temporary exemptions for some categories, such as migrants belonging to particularly vulnerable groups. But the UN experts fear that these could be repealed and deportations could eventually cover children, families and individuals with pending asylum claims.

Currently, an estimated 20,000 of the 34,700 Eritrean and Sudanese citizens in Israel are being forced to choose between leaving the country or indefinite detention in Israel.

“I am deeply concerned that this policy specifically targets individuals from sub-Saharan Africa. By singling out Eritrean and Sudanese nationals, the policy clearly breaches the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of race and national origin,” said E. Tendayi Achiume, the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

Additionally, regarding the “secrecy” surrounding the third country destinations, the UN experts said they were concerned that those returning might not be given adequate and effective protection.

“We call on Israel to respect the absolute prohibition of refoulement, which entails an obligation not to return a person to a country where the individual would be at risk of being subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” the experts said. They have been in contact with the Israeli government to clarify the situation.


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