Sudan Israel
Sudanese refugees in Tel Aviv celebrate South Sudan's independence, July 10, 2011. Photo by Sara Miller
Text size

Israel’s foreign ministry recommended Thursday that the Interior Ministry extend the protection from deportation collectively afforded to refugees from South Sudan by an additional six months. On Sunday, April 1, the collective protection for the citizens of the new nation is set to expire. This would mean that any South Sudanese citizen that will not leave ion his or her own accord will be deported.

In addition to this recommendation by the foreign ministry, the Jerusalem District Court issued an injunction forbidding any deportation of South Sudanese nationals before April 15. The state has until that date to respond to a petition by aid organizations against the Interior Ministry’s decision not to extend the collective protection.

A senior Foreign Ministry official said that the recommendation to extend the collective protection for the South Sudanese for another six month is due to the fact that the conditions for their return haven’t yet matured – not on the part of Israel and not on the part of South Sudan.

“The arrangements required for the return have yet to be completed and more time is required to coordinate the arrangements with the government of South Sudan,” the source said.

The Population and Immigration Authority stated that the authority to extend the protection isn’t held by the foreign of interior ministries, rather it lays in the hands of the prime minister.

On Wednesday, a special foreign ministry delegate to South Sudan returned to Israel after a short stay at the country’s capital Juba. He held consultations with the vice president and with members of international organizations in the country, and discussed the refugees return to South Sudanese. The visit was also intended to see if the conditions in the country have improved enough to allow for their return.

On Wednesday, following three days of fighting, which included airstrikes and tank shelling, Sudan and South Sudan agreed to work together to settle their differences.

The decision to work together came after the Unaited Nations Security Council issued a statement of concern over the fighting along the border, which could deteriorate to another civil war in the region.