“I was left with nothing”: “Voluntary” departures of asylum seekers from Israel to Rwanda and Uganda

Published: 1/Sep/2015
Source: International Refugee Rights Initiative

Since the beginning of 2013, approximately 10,000 African asylum seekers who had fled to Israel seeking refuge  have left. Israeli authorities classify these departures as “voluntary”, but in reality those choosing to leave do so as a result of severe pressures and violations of their rights. The majority of those who have left Israel have returned to Sudan and Eritrea, their countries of origin. However, during the last two years, more than 1,500 asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan have also left Israel for unknown “third countries”. Although these third countries have not been officially identified, it is now widely known that African asylum seekers in Israel who are not willing to go back to their countries of origin are being sent, almost exclusively, to Uganda or Rwanda.

Based on 24 interviews with Sudanese and Eritreans who have left Israel, this paper seeks to document the experiences of asylum seekers who have been subjected to Israel’s “voluntary departure” procedure. It focuses on the reasons they left Israel, their status in the receiving countries, and the reasons they have often left these countries shortly after arriving in them.

Download report: here.

Themes: Nationality and Refugees, Statelessness
Regions: Rwanda, Uganda
Year: 2015