ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 140

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Israel to grant humanitarian status to 300 asylum seekers from Sudan

State has already given A5 humanitarian visas to 1,100 Sudanese, allowing them to drive, work, and travel

African migrants and their supporters demonstrate in Jerusalem on April 4, 2018, against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cancellation of an agreement with the UN aimed at avoiding forced deportations. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)
African migrants and their supporters demonstrate in Jerusalem on April 4, 2018, against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cancellation of an agreement with the UN aimed at avoiding forced deportations. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)

Israel notified the High Court of Justice on Sunday that it will grant humanitarian status to 300 Sudanese refugees from the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile, and Darfur regions of Sudan.

Approximately 1,100 Sudanese previously obtained the A5 humanitarian visa, which enables its holders to obtain drivers licenses, travel documents,and work permits. The humanitarian visa is a step below refugee status. Israel has recognized just 10 Eritreans and one Sudanese as refugees.

“I can’t be happier to have the list of temporary residency status includes my friends [from the] Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile,” Mutasim Ali, a law student who is the only Sudanese to obtain refugee status in Israel, wrote on Facebook. “One more step forward — we shall overcome!”

Internationally, approximately 56 percent of Sudanese asylum seekers obtain refugee status.

“According to international law there is a legal definition of a refugee,” Population Immigration and Borders Authority director Shlomo Mor-Yosef told The Times of Israel in March. “Any country can expand the definition of a refugee if they want to. We don’t. Israel hasn’t expanded the definition of the refugee because we don’t encourage immigration of non-Jews.”

In February, the Population and Immigration Authority reported there was a backlog of approximately 8,800 applications for asylum. Between 2009 and 2017, 15,400 people opened files seeking asylum with the office. Israel has denied asylum to 6,600 people. Since February, thousands of people have opened new requests.

Illustrative: South Sudanese refugees line up to fill their plastic containers with water from a tap at the Imvepi reception center, where newly arrived refugees are processed before being allocated plots of land in nearby Bidi Bidi refugee settlement, in northern Uganda,, June 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Since 2011, there has been constant war in the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile Region between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North and the government of Sudan, including an aerial bombing campaign carried out by the Sudanese government.

There were 800,000 people living in the Blue Nile region before the conflict started. Today, there are fewer than 60,000, according to Al Jazeera.

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