Six years after he fled Darfur for Israel, Mutasim Ali, one of the leaders of the asylum seekers’ struggle in Israel, has been granted refugee status. Ali: ‘Now I can live a normal life with dignity.’
By Yael Marom
Mutasim Ali was in the middle of his law school class when he learned that he would become the first Sudanese asylum seeker to be granted refugee status in Israel. According to the announcement, which was sent by fax to Attorney Asaf Weitzen, who represents Ali on behalf of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri had decided to grant Ali refugee status.
Israel has yet to respond to nearly 1,000 asylum requests lodged by Darfuris who fled their country to Israel. These join a long list of over 10,000 of requests by asylum seekers — the vast majority of whom are Eritrean and Sudanese, which are still waiting for a response from the state. Many of these asylum have been in Israel since 2005.
“This is huge, I’m still in shock. I didn’t believe this would happen,” Ali told +972’s Hebrew sister-site, Local Call. “I thank the State of Israel for letting me stay here for all these years, and that it made a decision to grant me refugee status. I hope this is the first step in a positive direction, and that direction should be to grant refugee status to all those who are eligible, regardless of where they come from. Even if our stories are different, they are also very similar, and I am sure that many of us are eligible — all the state needs to do is check.”
“This will be a fundamental change in my life,” says Ali, “Now I can begin to think like a normal person. I won’t worry about what may happen tomorrow. I can live a normal life, with dignity — it’s an incredible thing.”
“The status will give me the space to do bigger things, and specifically to work toward change in my home country — because in the end I will go back there. Meanwhile I believe that I will be able to contribute more to Israeli society.”
Now that he has been granted status, Ali will need to make an appointment with the Interior Ministry, where he will receive a certificate acknowledging his new status. From there he will go to the National Insurance Institute, and...Read More