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Israel to deport 7,000 Sudanese migrants

On February 3, 2012

Israel announced on Tuesday that it will deport its approximately 7,000 Sudanese migrant workers because of South Sudan’s liberation. The migrants will be offered a "package" of $1,300 and a free ticket home. They have been asked leave by March 31st, and will be forcefully repatriated if they refuse.

Israel's mechanism for deportation is unclear at this point. The UN High Commission on Refugees states that Israel must review each asylum seeker on a case-by-case basis to determine whether or not they are still refugees - in which case Israel cannot deport them without violating their own agreements as well as international law.

Israel has long claimed that the majority of African asylum seekers are economic migrants who, especially because of their often illegal status, can be forcibly and justly repatriated. The birth of South Sudan offers a convenient pretext to implement the controversial deportation policies the Knesset recently passed. But the potential dangers migrants face when they return home are unknown - thus it is crucial that migrants’ refugee status is reviewed individually, and without the bias that is present in much Israeli rhetoric.

Israel's Sudanese community has reacted to the sudden announcement with understandable despair. Many lament the absence of any conceivable livelihood in the embryonic nation, preferring to delay their return until the country is both politically and economically secure.