A Sudanese refugee woman gave birth prematurely during the 28th week of her pregnancy to twin girls who weighed about 900 grams in a hospital in Eilat. Since the hospital lacked all of the facilities needed to keep the Sudanese twin girls alive, including a pediatric intensive care unit, the Sudanese refugee woman along with her twins were airlifted to Central Israel along so that the babies could receive proper medical treatment.

The Sudanese refugee mother and her daughters are all now in stable condition, thanks to Israeli assistance. The Israel Defense Forces arranged the coordination between the hospital in Eilat and Central Israel, and dispatched an Israeli Air Force Helicopter, along with 669 Airborne Rescue and Evacuation Unit members, to assist with the transportation of the Sudanese refugee mother and her children.

According to Home Front Command Col. Dr. Avi Abergel, “Preterm infants with such low weight are exposed to many dangers. Usually, they have impaired vision and they need respiratory assistance. Additionally, they are prone to hemorrhaging in the brain, and it is necessary to make sure that they are not exposed to infections.” He described Israel assisting this Sudanese refugee woman and her children as a “moment of Israeli pride—-the medical considerations trumped every thing else.”

In 2008, there were 4,000 Sudanese refugees in Israel, 1,200 of them being from the Darfur region. The conflict in Sudan began in the 1980’s, when government forces began regularly attacking African villages in Darfur following a drought. The Sudan Liberation Army was then formed in 2003 to protect African villages against the Sudanese governments’ aggression. The Sudanese government responded by forming Arab militias known as the Janjawood, which are infamous for murdering African men, women and children in Darfur and throughout Sudan. The Janjawood committed massive atrocities, including raping women, burning villages to the ground, and terrorizing non-Arabs.

Over 400,000 Africans were killed, over 3,200 African villages were reduced to rubble, and 2.4 million Sudanese have been displaced. Additionally, 4 million Sudanese rely on humanitarian aid in order to survive. While the Africans who remain in Darfur suffer greatly, many of the Sudanese refugees who manage to escape to other countries still face abuse. In Egypt, for example, immigration officials routinely shoot at and kill Sudanese refugees. In addition, many Sudanese refugees in Egypt face torture, organ theft, rape, physical assault, and the prospect of being abducted by smugglers. In comparison to this, the Sudanese refugees in Israel have a much higher standard of living.

Israel, in addition to offering Sudanese refugees medical assistance, also grants the Sudanese refugees social services and the opportunity to work. In addition, Kate Rosenberg founded an organization called Tov L’daat, which cares for Sudanese refugees in Israel by providing them with shelter and educational opportunities. Tov L’daat runs a special program that sends Sudanese refugees to study at the IDC Herzliya, so that they, according to Rosenberg, “can all get jobs in their home country [the newly established South Sudan] with the tools that they learned in Israel.

By Rachel Avraham