‘Not safe to go back’: Sudanese in Israel fear deportation

Sudanese asylum seekers in Israel are worried they will be kicked out once the normalisation agreement between the two countries is signed, though some hope their presence will be seen as an advantage.

Technically at war with Israel for decades, Sudan, last Friday, became the third Arab country this year to announce it is normalising ties with Israel, following the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

While the agreement still needs approval from Sudan’s yet-to-be formed legislative council, it was not welcomed by Sudanese political parties.

Sudan’s former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi slammed the announcement, also opposed by the Sudanese Baath Party and the Popular Congress Party which said the country’s transitional government is not elected and therefore not authorised to normalise relations with Israel.

Last week, dozens of Sudanese demonstrated in the capital Khartoum chanting “no peace, no negotiation, no reconciliation with the occupying entity”.

Sudan’s yet-to-be-formed council still needs to be established under a power-sharing deal between military officers and civilians, who have been running Sudan jointly since the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir in 2019.

‘Hundred percent in danger’

In Israel, the announcement was welcomed with mixed feelings among members of the Sudanese community who have been “very afraid” of being sent back, 26-year-old Barik Saleh, a Sudanese asylum seeker who lives in a suburb of Tel Aviv, was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

Israel says nearly 6,000 Sudanese live in the country, most of them asylum seekers who are not always allowed to work and cannot take up Israeli citizenship.

Saleh, who grew up in West Darfur, was nine years old when his family fled the war to neighbouring Chad.

“My parents are in a refugee camp,” said Saleh, who arrived in Israel after transiting through Libya and Egypt, and has lived in Israel for 13 years.

“I will be the first one for normalisation. But if I will be deported, then I will be in 100 percent danger.”

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