Congolese Refugees Facing Deportation from Israel

7 March 2019

photo - man with Israeli flagFor decades, 300 Congolese people seeking asylum have been living in Israel. Now, the Israeli government is trying to deport them, in what would be a highly dangerous and controversial move.

Most of the Congolese people seeking asylum in Israel arrived between 1999 and 2009, during and after the Second Congo war. They are legal residents of Israel, and until now, they were protected under a “general temporary protection” policy.

But in October 2018, the Interior Ministry announced that Congolese group protection would end on January 5th, when they would be forced to leave. None of the people seeking asylum abided by the deadline, and the Interior Ministry decided to issue 10 deportation notices and reject a number of visa renewal applications.

The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, appealed to the Jerusalem District Court, which suspended the deportations and forced the state to continue renewing the visas. “The court was on our side and made the state continue to renew visas,” says Shira Abbo, spokesperson for the Hotline. “For now, the Congolese are safe.”

Very few asylum claimants in Israel receives refugee status, according to the Hotline. “Our experience with the Israeli asylum system is not a good one,” says Abbo, “We know that the system is designed to reject everyone.”

Photo by Ben Kelmer, via Flickr