“We are happy that there are many countries ready to welcome us and that Netanyahu has stopped the expulsions. We will no longer be sent back to Africa at the risk of life and will not be imprisoned in Israel,” said Michael Taklit, a refugee and Eritrean activist. “However, we’re only talking about the granting of residences and work permits and not of asylum recognition. One day Israel could change its mind and send us all away.”
We spoke with Taklit in the southern part of Tel Aviv, which has been known as “little Africa” for years. He explained his community’s state of mind now that there’s an agreement between Israel and the UN refugee agency that would see several countries, including Canada, Germany and Italy, would receive over the next five years African asylum seekers presently in Israel.
The refugees are relieved—and guarded. Sudanese represent 20 percent of the approximately 38,000 African asylum seekers whom the Israeli government in January had offered only two possibilities: return to Africa before April 1 or end up in prison.