Asylum seekers in southern Tel Aviv
Asylum seekers in southern Tel Aviv
Photo: Yaron Brenner
Asylum seekers in southern Tel Aviv

Sudan's asylum seekers in Israel say they'll go back if 'peace is real'

While many express hope over prospect of returning to a more peaceful and democratic home, others worry that many military officers, suspected of taking part in the deadly Darfour conflict that forced them to flee, are now in power

Hadar Gil-Ad, Itamar Eichner |
Published: 10.25.20 , 09:19
Thousands of Sudanese nationals seeking asylum in Israel have said they are monitoring the development of the newly-announced normalization agreement and would be willing to return to their country if the "peace" between the two states ends up being "real."
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  • The agreement to normalize ties after years of hostility was sealed on Friday in a call between U.S. President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Sudanese transitional leaders. Reports suggest the return of asylum seekers currently in Israel to Sudan appears to be an integral part of the deal.
    Asylum seekers in southern Tel Aviv Asylum seekers in southern Tel Aviv
    Asylum seekers in southern Tel Aviv
    (Photo: Yaron Brenner)
    "We are not afraid of being returned," said Faisal, a Sudanese asylum seeker.
    "We hope the agreement with Israel points to the current situation in Sudan. If there is peace and a stable government, we all would want to return. No one wants to live in a different country far from his family."
    Faisal said he is following closely the ongoing negotiations between Khartoum and Jerusalem.
    "We are waiting to get the full picture, but as far as I can tell, the agreement focuses on diplomatic relations between the two countries, not taking us into the account," he said. "It is a shame, they need to talk about us. We want a full treaty, a good treaty."
    Asylum seekers in Tel Aviv Asylum seekers in Tel Aviv
    Asylum seekers in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: AP)
    Anwar, a refugee from the war-torn Darfour region said he dreams of going back home but is still worried. "I very much want to return home, but the reasons for me leaving still remain," he said.
    Some of the army officers and generals who currently oversee Sudan's transitional government are suspected of taking part in the fighting and massacres of the War in Darfur that resulted in between 100,000-300,000 dead and over 3 million displaced civilians.
    Israel is currently home to over 6,000 Sudanese asylum seekers, the majority of which are living in southern Tel Aviv, with the state reluctant to provide them with any kind of legal status.
    Asylum seekers protesting deportation in Tel Aviv Asylum seekers protesting deportation in Tel Aviv
    Asylum seekers protesting deportation in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    Many of them, nevertheless, believe that Israel will conduct itself according to international law and will not force them to return to Sudan even when the normalization deal if finalized.
    So far, only 1,000 Sudanese asylum seekers were given humanitarian status as part of a government decision. "It is still too early to know the ramifications of the agreement," said the Israeli NGO Hotline for Refugees and Migrants.
    "Even if Israel decides to deport the asylum seekers, the country will be obligated to examine the requests of every single potential deportee, which the state has refused to do for over a decade."


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