Minister says migrants, who had filed for asylum, were not refugees, just there for medical treatment

Illustrative photo of Sudanese and Eritrean refugees  (Nicky Kelvin/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of Sudanese and Eritrean refugees (Nicky Kelvin/Flash90)


Jordan Wednesday repatriated 800 Sudanese who had sought asylum in the kingdom, Information Minister Mohammed Momani said, adding that they were not refugees but in the country for medical treatment.

Momani said the 800 were all flown back to Sudan after they had applied for refugee status.

“The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Amman does not consider them to be refugees,” he added.

Human Rights Watch said deporting refugees “violates the customary international law principle of nonrefoulement, which forbids governments from returning people to places where they risk being persecuted, tortured, or exposed to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

For the past several days, dozens of Sudanese held a sit-in in tents they had pitched outside the UNHCR offices in western Amman.

Media said security forces broke up the sit-in on Wednesday morning and put everyone on buses for the airport.

The UNHCR says there are 3,500 Sudanese asylum seekers in Jordan, most from the war-torn western region of Darfur.

“There is no excuse for Jordan to deport vulnerable asylum seekers back to Sudan, regardless of how they entered the country,” said HRW’s deputy Middle East director Joe Stork.

“Jordan should not punish these Sudanese merely because they protested for better conditions and for resettlement consideration.”

Jordan already hosts hundreds of thousands of refugees from the conflict in neighboring Syria. In contrast to a UN figure of 600,000, it claims the actual figure is 1.4 million, equivalent to 20 percent of its population.

Since 2006, Israel has struggled to establish and implement a clear legal framework to deal with the large influx of migrants, resulting in confusing and often conflicting ad hoc immigration policies.

The influx has slowed dramatically of late, as Israel has sealed off its border with Egypt more effectively.

The vast majority of African migrants living in Israel claim asylum seeker status, but the state has recognized fewer than 1% as asylum claimers and, since 2009, less than 0.15% — the lowest rate in the Western world.

As reported by The Times of Israel