At a time in which an entire nation is filled with pride over the rescue of one individual, Gilad Shalit, it should also demonstrate empathy for those from beyond our midst.
The plight of 28-year-old Somali Abbas Said Omar that was reported yesterday in Haaretz by Dana Weiler-Polak casts an embarrassing light on the Interior Ministry’s policy vis-a-vis the granting of refugee status.
Omar – whose father was killed and whose other family members were dispersed in the wake of murderous acts committed by armed tribal militias in the area around the Somali capital, Mogadishu – was forced to flee his homeland in 2005, and, after a period of wandering, he arrived in Israel in March 2009.
In February 2010, he was recognized as a refugee by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, but his application for recognition as a refugee by the State of Israel was turned down by the Interior Ministry. Currently, Omar and three other Somali nationals are petitioning the Jerusalem District Court to overturn the verdict of Interior Minister Eli Yishai and the ministry’s advisory committee on refugees.