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High Court orders state to consider Darfur asylum requests by end of year

Judges say that if government fails to mull applications, thousands of refugees who fled genocide must be granted temporary residency

South Sudanese refugees protest against the Israeli immigration policy on June 10 (Roni Schutzer/Flash90)
South Sudanese refugees protest against the Israeli immigration policy on June 10 (Roni Schutzer/Flash90)

The High Court of Justice on Sunday ordered the government to consider the asylum applications of refugees from Sudan’s Darfur, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile regions by the end of the year.

If the state fails to do so by end of 2021, it will be required to grant temporary residency to those refugees, who have been left in limbo for well over a decade, a three-judge panel ruled unanimously.

The High Court ruling concerned the applications of 2,445 asylum seekers submitted before June 2017 that have yet to be adjudicated by the state.

The judges lamented that the state has dragged its feet in handling asylum request applications and has changed its reasoning for the delays over the years.

The state has yet to formulate an official policy for adjudicating asylum requests, despite multiple pledges to the court that it planned to do so, the most recent of which came in October 2018.

“The continued delay in ruling on the asylum requests of Darfurians has led to uncertainty and even destabilization in the affairs of those waiting and therefore is causing significant damage to asylum seekers,” Chief Justice Esther Hayut wrote in the majority opinion.

Roughly 6,000 Sudanese refugees currently live in Israel, making up about one fifth of all asylum seekers in the country. Most of them fled because of the 2003 genocide in Darfur and have since resided in Israel without official status and therefore haven’t had access to many basic social services.

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