'If Regina goes back to Ghana she'll die'
Regina Ajiman, 33, was diagnosed with Leukemia 10 years ago. Now she and her husband are facing deportation due to Israel's tough immigration laws. She knows her country cannot provide her with cancer treatment she needs. Interior Ministry promises to consider granting couple permission to stay as long as required: 'We do not send people to their death'
One such foreign national, whose fate is closely connected to her being in Israel, is Regina Ajiman, a 33-year-old Ghanaian who has been living in Israel for 12 years.
Ten years ago Regina was diagnosed with Leukemia. She is now treated at the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv.
Due to Israel's tough immigration laws, Regina is now facing deportation. She knows that her country cannot provide her with the cancer treatment she needs.
"During the first few years, she continued to work. She is young and strong," said her husband Michael, who is also facing deportation. "But in the last few months her condition has deteriorated and she has to be at the hospital three times a week for intravenous chemotherapy.
"If she goes back to Ghana she will die. There is no appropriate treatment for her there. The Israeli doctors are very sympathetic and want to help her. They say she should stay here for the treatment," he added.
Michael was arrested a year ago by the immigration police, but at the time he appealed and got an extension to stay in Israel until March 15, 2007. This means the couple must leave Israel within 10 days.
They are waiting for a reply for the Ministry of the Interior regarding their request to stay here. Dr. Sigal Tavor, who has been treating Ajiman wrote the medical opinion affixed to the request. She wrote that the optimal therapy for her is a bone marrow transplant.
'Extending their stay a humanitarian act'
Michael contacted the Ministry of Health in Ghana and was told that they do not perform bone marrow transplants in the country and they recommend that she have the treatment in Israel. However, as a foreign worker with no health insurance, the couple cannot afford it.
Dr Tavor wrote, "Without the transplant her situation is worsening rapidly. The patient needs follow-up sessions three times a week. Due to her sever condition, I urge that she and her husband remain in Israel for the duration of the treatment."
Ran Cohen, Director of Migrant Workers, Refugees and Asylum Seekers Project at Physicians for Human Rights, is familiar with the Ajiman's story. He explained that "deporting Regina to Ghana is a death sentence for her."
Cohen sent a letter on behalf of the couple to the Ministry of Interior, in which he wrote, "Due to the deterioration in Regina's health, consenting to extend their stay in Israel would be a humanitarian act."
He mentioned a Supreme Court ruling according to which Israel is not to deport a person if he is facing danger to his or her life or liberty in the country he is deported to.
The ministry has yet to send its reply to the couple, but a conversation with Ynet revealed that
there was hope.
"The couple will not be deported until we have made a decision," a ministry official said, "as these are special circumstances.
"If the treatment she is receiving in Israel is not available in her country, we will consider granting them permission to stay here as long as required. The Ministry of Interior does not send people to their death, and humanitarian cases are examined with sincerity and sensitivity."