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Israel is ending its collective protection of Ivory Coast asylum seekers, the Population and Immigration Authority said yesterday.

The decision, which will take effect on January 1, 2012, means that about 2,000 Ivorians residing in Israel will have to leave the country within one month. It was based on a Foreign Ministry assessment that political tensions in the African nation have eased substantially.

Back in May, the Population Authority had told Ivory Coast nationals residing in Israel to begin preparing for departure, due to the improvement in their country's civil strife. But no action was taken against the Ivorian asylum seekers, as no official decision had been made.

According to the Population Authority, the Foreign Ministry assessment concluded that returning Ivory Coast citizens do not face mortal danger, and that those who have returned to the country are leading safe lives. Therefore, collective protection is no longer justified.

William Toll, who represents the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Israel, said that now that Israel has ended collective protection for Ivorian asylum seekers, it must allow citizens of the African country to submit individual requests for asylum.

Israel must also allow asylum seekers whose requests were rejected in the past to update and resubmit their petitions, Toll added.