Sudanese asylum seekers (298868)
Credit: GIN photo

Sudanese refugees who live in Israel are wondering what their future holds if ties are normalized between the two countries as predicted and the Israeli government launches deportation proceedings against them.

There are around 6,500 Sudanese nationals in Israel, representing 20% of all the asylum seekers in the country. Of these, 4,500 have submitted requests for political asylum and have been awaiting a decision for many years.

Some 1,600 of the Sudanese have been recognized as coming from Darfur, and another 300 as originating from the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile regions, also known regions of conflict. There are many others who originate from these areas but they aren’t recognized as such because they have never been called in for interviews to determine their place of original residence.

“I have a lot of family in Darfur,” said Faisal Sadiq Adam, a car mechanic who’s lived in Israel for 12 years. “People [in Darfur] are being killed and wounded…You can’t say it’s not dangerous there, there’s still murder every day. My grandfather and five uncles were killed; my mother told me when I was 16 to flee so at least I’d be saved. Israelis don’t listen to our stories, but we were fleeing from real danger.”

“We are living here without residential status, which means they can undermine in one blow all our security in life and everything we’re trying to build,” said Adam, another refugee from Sudan who has three children and has been living in Tel Aviv since 2012.

“Think of yourselves, you live in a certain city, your kids are in school, you have work, but you always have the fear that one day some politician will want to get more votes at your expense and will send you and your children to a dangerous country and everything you try to build will be destroyed.”

Sudanese nationals are not currently being repatriated to their native land, but not because Israel recognizes Sudan as a country in crisis but because of the lack of diplomatic relations between the State of Israel and the Republic of Sudan.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Israel stressed to the newspaper Haaretz that even if there’s a change in the relations between the two countries, it would not allow forced deportations to Sudan, but only voluntary return.