Israel set to deport hundreds of Congolese migrants after scrapping protection

Hundreds of migrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo are set to be deported from Israel as the government has scrapped the special status they are afforded in the country.

Israels Population and Immigration Authority announced in a notice on its website that Interior Minister, Arye Dery, has decided to revoke the migrants general temporary protection status after the Foreign Ministry determined that there was no reason not to send them back to their home country.

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The notice said that Congolese nationals must leave now Israel by 5 January 2019, after which they could face deportation. The authority added it will not issue residence permits past that date. The special protection was in place for nearly 20 years after hundreds of Congolese fled to Israel following violence in their country in the 1990s.

The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, an Israeli organization dedicated to refugees' rights, described the decision as “another failure”, Haaretz reports. It added that the agency has been dragging out the process of evaluating the asylum requests of more than 200 Congolese nationals “and now it is demanding that they return to a dangerous country where the situation has still not stabilized.”

Last week Human Rights Watch said that there has been a series of massacres in eastern DR Congo in the past four years and at least 235 people have been killed so far in 2018.

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“Many were hacked to death with axes or machetes or shot dead. More than 165 civilians have been kidnapped for ransom or abducted, and dozens of others have been wounded or disappeared this year,” the NGO said.

It added that the attacks were hampering efforts to combat an Ebola outbreak which has killed more than 70 people since August.

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