UN Urges Jordan Not to Deport Palestinian Activist Back to Syria

Wael al-Sahlee, a 40-year-old artist and activist, fled Syria for Jordan in late 2012 after becoming a target of the Syrian regime. Banned from working in Jordan, Sahlee wanted to seek a better life in Europe, so in late April he and his nine-year-old son flew via Dubai to Sudan. Their plan was to then travel to Libya, and then from the Libyan coast to Italy. ut in Sudan, visa problems instead saw the Sahlees deported back to Dubai airport, where they lived for two weeks because Sahlee no longer had a valid Jordanian visa. It was a situation that eventually attracted the attention of the world’s press, and after a media storm, they were eventually readmitted back to Jordan on a temporary basis. But the activist’s brief grace period now appears to be up, after his brother disclosed that Sahlee has now been taken to the border with Syria, and awaits deportation. Thaer al-Sahlee, himself a refugee who reached Europe last year by boat from Libya, said his brother now faces execution. If deported, campaigners say Jordan’s decision would be particularly callous as Sahlee has been offered a visa by the German government, who have asked for more time to complete the administrative procedures necessary to transfer him to Germany. Sahlee’s case exemplifies the bureaucratic quagmire faced by the descendants of Palestinian refugees forced from their homes at the time of the creation of the state of Israel.