Over 200 citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo have been given until early January to leave Israel, after authorities determined that returning to their home country would not put them in danger, The Times of Israel reported on Tuesday.
The decision was made by Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri in consultation with the Foreign Ministry, which found no “impediment to the expatriation” of Congolese citizens, a statement from PIBA said.
“It would be prudent to hereby clarify that as of January 5, 2019, enforcement measures will be taken against illegal residents who are citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” the statement said. Applications for extension of permission to stay in the country will not be considered.
The Hotline for Migrants and Refugees condemned the sweeping expulsion order and called on it to rule on individual asylum requests submitted by Congolese migrants.
“This is another failure by the Population Immigration and Border Authority, that for over a decade has dragged its feet and refrained from deciding on asylum requests of 208 citizens of the Congo, and is now demanding they return to a dangerous country whose situation has still not stabilized,” the Hotline told Haaretz.
According to a Pew Research Center survey last month, 57 percent of Israelis oppose accepting refugees fleeing war and conflict, such as Congo, which has been for years been devastated by internal fighting and more recently by an e-bola outbreak.
It was not immediately clear what changes might have occurred in Congo to precipitate the Israeli decision.