In first, Israel grants refugee status to Sudanese asylum seeker
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In first, Israel grants refugee status to Sudanese asylum seeker

Mutasim Ali, whose family’s village in Darfur was destroyed, has been recognized by government

Illustrative photo of African asylum seekers, held in an open detention facility in the Negev. (Flash90)
Illustrative photo of African asylum seekers, held in an open detention facility in the Negev. (Flash90)

JERUSALEM — Israel, for the first time, has granted refugee status to a Sudanese asylum seeker from Darfur.

Population and Immigration Authority spokeswoman Sabine Haddad said Darfur-born Mutasim Ali was the first national of Sudan — an enemy state of Israel — to gain temporary residency according to the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention.

Ali says regime forces burned down his family’s village in Darfur. He fled Sudan after he was arrested and tortured for activism, and crossed Egypt before slipping across the Israeli border in 2009.

Ali applied for refugee status in 2012 and endured 14 months in a desert detention facility in Israel before winning release in the Supreme Court.

About 40,000 Sudanese and Eritreans migrants are in Israel, Haddad said Thursday.

She said the decision applies only to Ali.

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