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“Voluntary” departures from Israel leave asylum seekers without status and vulnerable

(08 September 2015) A new report launched today by the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) exposes how Israeli transfers of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers to Uganda and Rwanda leaves them without status and vulnerable to exploitation. “Our research shows that Israel is not only failing to respect its own obligations under international law, but is directly increasing the vulnerability of these asylum seekers and contributing to migration flows to other African countries and to the EU,” said IRRI’s Executive Director Andie Lambe.

The report, “I was left with nothing”: “Voluntary” departures of asylum seekers from Israel to Rwanda and Uganda, is based on interviews with over 20 Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers who were sent from Israel to Uganda and Rwanda between February 2014 and May 2015. Despite claims that the departures are voluntary, all of the interviewees stated that they had left as a result of their detention or the threat thereof, and because they felt that they would not be able to acquire a legal status that would allow them to lead a normal, stable life in Israel. They chose to leave not because they wanted to go to the third countries offered, but because they could not go home. In the words of one Eritrean asylum seeker: “They said: ‘you can either go to your country or to Rwanda.’ I said: ‘if I could go to my country, why would I even be in Israel to begin with?’

Read the full press release (English, Hebrew)
Read the full report.

Rights in Exile Newsletter
Issue 63, October 2015

ISSN 2049-2650

In this issue:

Featured Articles

The plight of African refugees in Israel

Where is the justice and the moral responsibility of the international community?

Short Pieces

The refugee crisis that isn't

UK: House of Commons debate on immigration detention

Read the full newsletter here.


NGO Letter regarding human rights situation at 30th session of the UN Human Rights Council

To Permanent Representatives of Members and Observer States of the UN Human Rights Council

Geneva, 3 September 2015,

RE: Gravely deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in Sudan

We write to share our serious concerns about the deteriorating human rights situation in Sudan, marked by harsh political repression and continued impunity. There is increasing evidence that Sudanese security forces are committing war crimes in the conflict areas of Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states. We call on your delegation to support the development and adoption of a strong and responsive resolution on Sudan under agenda Item 4 at the 30th session of the Human Rights Council in September.

Over the past four years in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, the Sudanese government has engaged in indiscriminate and targeted aerial bombardment of civilian areas, killing and wounding hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians. Government forces have destroyed civilian property including villages, health facilities, schools, mosques and churches, and the authorities continue to obstruct humanitarian assistance. Government forces and allied militia have also been implicated in alarming levels of sexual violence. Ongoing attacks and fighting have caused massive displacement over the past year.

Read the full letter.



Between Hope and Skepticism: Congolese Await the Trial of Ntaganda

The following blog was originally posted on the International Justice Monitor website.

By Olivia Bueno

(2 September 2015) Today, September 2, the trial of Bosco Ntaganda began at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. This will be an important trial for the court in many ways and will be followed with particular interest both in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and in the rest of the sub-region because of the high profile nature of the perpetrator and because of the extent to which his story highlights regional engagement in the DRC.

Born in Rwanda, Ntaganda fled to the DRC as a teenager. He served as chief of military operations for the Union des Patriotes Congolais (UPC), the rebel group lead by Thomas Lubanga, from 2002 to 2005. Later he went on to fight with a number of other rebel groups including the Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple (CNDP) and the March 23 Movement (M23), before becoming a general in Congo’s national army following the peace deal signed between the Congolese government and the CNDP.

Read the full blog here.