Usumain Tukuny Baraka is a Sudanese activist and asylum seeker living in Israel. He is a leader of Israel's asylum-seeking community and the first Darfuri refugee to graduate from a Hebrew-language program in an Israeli university.
Usumain Tukuny Baraka
|Education||Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya|
|Occupation(s)||Activist for international and Israeli Darfuri community|
Usumain Baraka was born in Darfur, Sudan in the small village of Dirata, close to the city of Geneina. He is a member of the Masalit people. At age 9, the Darfur genocide came to his village, and Janjaweed militants killed his father—the leader of his village—and brother. Baraka fled on foot through the jungle and found shelter in a refugee camp in Chad with his mother and sisters.
After three years in the refugee camp, Baraka left in search of a normal life and education, He traveled through Libya and Egypt. In Egypt, he saw a television program on the history of the Jewish people and the Holocaust. In 2008, he paid Bedouin smugglers to take him across the desert into Israel. Upon reaching Israel, he had no shoes. The first Israeli soldier he encountered took off his own shoes and socks and gave them to Baraka.
In December 2020, Baraka's brother Sayid Ismael Baraka, who had received American citizenship after being resettled there as a refugee, traveled to El-Geneina, Sudan, to visit family. He was murdered inside his own home by violent militias on January 16, 2021.
Education and national service edit
Baraka received his high school diploma from Yemin Orde, a Jewish boarding school for at-risk and immigrant youth near Haifa, Israel. After completing high school, Baraka hoped to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces, but was prevented due to his lack of Israeli citizenship. Instead, he completed a year and a half of volunteer service. He frequently returns to Yemin Orde to give inspirational talks to current students.
Baraka graduated from the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in 2019 with a bachelor's degree in Government and Diplomacy Relations. After completing his bachelor's degree, he enrolled in a Master's program in Public Policy, also at the IDC and graduated in summer 2020. During his first degree he was a volunteer member of the IDC student union. Baraka completed his studies in Hebrew, one of five languages he speaks, and is the first refugee in Israel to gain a master's degree in Hebrew.
Baraka co-authored the paper "‘She Died While Missing Us’: Experiences of Family Separation Among African Refugees in Israel" along with Dr. Hadas Yaron Mesgena, published in the book Forced Migration and Separated Families: Everyday Insecurities and Transnational Strategies.
Political activism edit
Baraka is a Co-Founder of the African Students Organization in Israel. From 2016 to 2019 he served as the organisation's Education Director, and took over as the CEO in January 2019. In 2019 he gave a keynote address at the organization's inaugural annual conference.
Baraka makes frequent appearances on Israeli television, radio, and print media, where he represents the asylum-seeking community. He appeared on Kan 11 February 2020 following Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting in Uganda with Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. He appeared on 103fm and in Haaretz in August 2020 following an announcement that Israel and Sudan were undergoing peace talks. He was also featured on an episode of the Israeli television series 'Slicha al hashe'ela' or Excuse the Question, which discussed African asylum seekers in Israel. In April 2020, he was the subject of a Kan 11 mini-documentary, which described his activism to help fellow asylum seekers in Israel during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Baraka also gives tours and lectures to groups in English and Hebrew on the topic of asylum seekers in Israel, the Darfur genocide, and South Tel Aviv. He also runs a Hebrew language school for fellow asylum seekers in Israel, through which he teaches Hebrew to dozens of asylum seekers from Darfur and elsewhere.
Following his brother's murder in 2021, Baraka spoke out about the dangers presented by Sudan's interim government, run by perpetrators of the genocide in 2003. He both spoke to other journalists and authored an op-ed on the subject, published in Israel's Haaretz newspaper.
- "These African asylum seekers came to Israel alone as kids. Now they could face deportation: 'Israel is part of who I am'". Haaretz.
- Usumain (Ismail) Baraka - Takiru. YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-09.
- "Africans Seeking Refuge in the Promised Land". JISS. March 27, 2018.
- "Sudanese nationals in Israel fear deportation after peace deal". ynetnews. October 27, 2020.
- "Sudanese Nationals in Israel Fear Deportation after Peace Deal". The Media Line. October 26, 2020.
- "Sudanese in Israel fear being returned after normalisation". au.finance.yahoo.com.
- "Sudanese Nationals in Israel Fear Deportation after Peace Deal". Jewish Journal. October 27, 2020.
- "Why I'm Inviting an Asylum Seeker to My Seder". 22 March 2018.
- "Real Steel: Usumain Baraka". November 26, 2016.
- "Why I'm Inviting an Asylum Seeker to My Seder". March 22, 2018.
- "Sudan deal plunges migrants in Israel into new uncertainty". Star Tribune.
- "Sudan deal plunges migrants in Israel into new uncertainty". AP News. 20 April 2021.
- "Darfuri refugee dreams of building bridges between the states of Israel and Sudan". UNHCR.
- "Death toll from violence in Sudan's West Darfur rises to 83". Daily Herald.
- "Sudan troops deployed in Darfur after clashes kill 155". MSN News.
- "Raised and schooled in Israel, these young Africans could be sent back to a country they do not know". Washington Post.
- Green, Emma (January 30, 2018). "African Deportations Are Creating a Religious Controversy in Israel". The Atlantic.
- "Graduate Day Offers Opportunities to Receive and to Give Back". ImpactIsrael. January 22, 2020.
- "Darfuris in Israel Are Grateful, But Challenges Continue". HIAS.
- Rosenblatt, Gary. "Despite Tough Treatment, African Migrants Praise Israel". jewishweek.timesofisrael.com.
- LAVALLÉE, Guillaume. "Sudanese in Israel fear deportation after normalization, say they face danger". www.timesofisrael.com.
- "אגודת הסטודנטים הבינתחומי הרצליה - IDC Student Union". www.facebook.com.
- Forced Migration and Separated Families Everyday Insecurities and Transnational Strategies. Marja Tiilikainen, Johanna Hiitola, Abdirashid A. Ismail, Jaana Palander. 2023. pp. 79–94.
- "Our Team xxx – African Students Organization in Israel".
- African Students in Israel First Conference 2019 Section 1. YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-09.
- אוסומעין ברקה בראיון לרומי נוימרק - חדשות כאן 11. YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-09.
- "Netanyahu, Sudanese leader meet in Uganda, agree to start normalizing ties". Haaretz.
- "103FM - גולן יוכפז וענת דוידוב - דרך השלום?". 103FM - האזנה לרדיו און ליין.
- "גם אם יושג הסכם שלום, הדרך להשבת מבקשי המקלט לסודאן ארוכה ורצופה מכשולים". הארץ.
- Boxerman, Aaron; Newman, Marissa. "Sudan and Israel say talks underway for deal to normalize ties". www.timesofisrael.com.
- Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: סליחה על השאלה | פליטים - שידור בכורה ביוטיוב. YouTube.
- "דוקותיים: אוסומעין" – via www.facebook.com.
- "Protocol No. 250 From a meeting of the State Audit Committee Wednesday, Wednesday, June 28, 2017, 9:00 AM". Nevo.
- "Ethnic clashes in Darfur could reignite Sudan's old conflict". The Washington Post.
- Baraka, Usumain. "My Brother, a U.S. Citizen, Was Murdered in Darfur. Departure of Peacekeepers Is a Travesty".