ICERAS focuses on facilitating asylum seekers and refugees internationally

Mass expulsion under way as Israel begins deporting 40,000 Africans

Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers in Israel will be forced to accept a plane ticket to unsafe countries or face indefinite prison

Togod Omar has been waiting for a decision on his asylum application for five years (Tessa Fox/MEE)
Tessa Fox's picture
Last update:
Friday 19 January 2018 16:33 UTC

TEL AVIV – Togod Omar was an activist in Sudan for five years, speaking out on democracy and labour issues, until his activities were brought to the attention of the Sudanese dictatorship.

“[The government] started attacking us and killing our friends inside the university. When they killed a friend of mine in front of my eyes, it was the final moment [for me]. I knew I had to hide myself,” Omar told Middle East Eye.

Omar went into hiding for 10 months. “My life was in danger,” Omar explained.

Government security personnel would frequently go to Omar’s house looking for him. “They would ask my mother, ‘Where is Togod? We want him.'” The security forces would also stop Omar’s brother on the way home from school and ask where he was.

Omar faced two choices: join the rebels and fight against the army or flee his homeland. “I thought a lot about what it means for me to take a weapon and kill people. I decided it wasn’t an option for me.”

As he didn’t have a passport, Omar asked his uncle to help him buy a fake. In 2011, he used it to cross into Egypt and eventually into Israel, where he has lived for the past seven years.

Leave or be imprisoned

Israel plans to deport 40,000 African asylum seekers, with stories just like Omar’s, starting in April this year.

They will be presented with the option of either accepting $3,500 and a plane ticket to an undefined country or an indefinite jail sentence.

The majority of asylum seekers entered Israel between 2006 and 2012 before a fence was built, closing off the route on the Egyptian border. readmore

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