Monday, June 27, 2005

63 Ethiopians Jailed in Israel File Urgent Appeal Against Expulsion

Haaretz -- Some 63 Ethiopian citizens jailed in Israel for over one year filed an urgent appeal this week to the Tel Aviv Magistrates Court against a state order to deport them, fearing that they will be killed if they return to Ethiopia.

The group is requesting to remain in Israel as long as there is a chance that Canada will comply with their request for asylum.

The aforementioned Ethiopians arrived in Israel in 2004, some with tourist visas and some infiltrated from Egypt. According to the appeal, in Ethiopia they were students and their political activity was considered incitement against the government, and therefore they fear that they will be in danger if they return. In Israel, they appealed to the United Nations refugees office, and asked to be recognized as refugees, but their request was turned down. They were arrested, expulsion orders were issued, and they were jailed.

Aided by humanitarian organizations, the Association for Advancement of African Refugees in Israel, prison authorities and the Interior Ministry, the 63 individuals filed a request for asylum in Canada. The Orthodox Ethiopian Church in Canada agreed to support their request and provide for their needs during their first year in Canada.

The process of requesting asylum is slow, and in the meantime they have not been expelled to Ethiopia because of their staunch refusal. But in recent days it was made clear that the Ethiopian embassy issued travel documents for them. By doing so, their departure from Israel has been made possible, even against their will. It is for this reason that the urgent appeal was filed.

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