Ivorians fail in Israel court bid

2012-06-24 18:04
Refugee children touch hands through bus's window. (File Ziv, AFP)

Refugee children touch hands through bus's window. (File Ziv, AFP)

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Jerusalem - An Israeli court on Sunday upheld government plans to deport illegal migrants from the Ivory Coast, paving the way for the imminent expulsion of an estimated 2 000 Ivorians.

The United Nations declared Ivory Coast "a crisis state" in 2004 after years of civil unrest. But after fighting ended and economist Alassane Ouattara was elected as president in 2011, Israel said it was cancelling a long-standing policy of "collective protection" for Ivorian migrants.

On Sunday, the Jerusalem District Court rejected a petition by 132 Ivorian emigres requesting that their status be restored, or that alternatively each be enabled to apply for refugee status, or given leave to stay on humanitarian grounds.

The petition argued that "based on many international reports, including recent UN reports, the situation in Ivory Coast is still dangerous", and their status should therefore not change.

But the court ruled that the new policy, based on Israeli foreign ministry evaluations, was reasonable and proportionate.

Sabine Hadad, spokesperson for the interior ministry's population and migration authority, told AFP there were approximately 2 000 Ivorians in Israel, and that their expulsion would begin in July.

Last week, Israel flew home a first plane load of 120 illegal immigrants from South Sudan who it said had agreed to be voluntarily repatriated.

Since 10 June, Israel has arrested hundreds of Africans in a nationwide roundup with the aim of deporting them.

At Sunday's weekly Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that a second flight to South Sudan would leave Israel on Monday.

"Two additional planes will leave next week," he added.

Hadad said 150 South Sudanese who agreed to leave Israel voluntarily would fly directly to the capital Juba between Monday and Tuesday.

Read more on:    benjamin netanyahu  |  alassane ouattara  |  south sudan  |  ivory coast  |  israel  |  east africa  |  west africa
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