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Israel confirms plan to deport African migrants to Uganda

Reuters in Jerusalem, Friday 30 August 2013 02.57 BST Israel plans to soon begin deporting migrants from Eritrea and Sudan, who number more than 50,000, back to Africa via Uganda, officials said. Israel regards most of the Africans as illegal visitors in

Israel plans to soon begin deporting migrants from Eritrea and Sudan, who number more than 50,000, back to Africa via Uganda, officials said.

Israel regards most of the Africans as illegal visitors in search of jobs, and largely rejects the position of human rights groups that many fled their countries in search of political asylum.

A statement late on Thursday from interior minister Gideon Sa’ar said Israel would soon begin a staged process of deporting the migrants, most of whom have crossed the border with Egypt since 2006.

Sa’ar said an agreement had been reached with Uganda to absorb the “infiltrators”, who would soon be urged “to leave of their own free will”.

Sa’ar said the prime minister’s special envoy Hagai Hadas had obtained Uganda’s consent, Haaretz reported.

The chairwoman of parliament’s committee on foreign workers, Michal Rozin, speaking by phone, said there were “rumours” that Uganda may have agreed to the arrangement in exchange for a deal for money and weapons.

There was no immediate comment from officials in Kampala.

“In the first stage, we will focus on raising awareness within the population of infiltrators while helping them with the logistics of their departure, including costs, airfare and dealing with the possessions they accumulated while they were in Israel,” Sa’ar said.

Later the state would set a deadline by which “certain sectors within the infiltrator population” would be asked to “willingly” leave the country.

Once the deadline passed, the state would stop issuing extensions on visas and would begin enforcing laws that prohibit the employment of illegal migrants, the minister said.

Rozin urged the government to expose more details of the plan, including whether there were assurances that the migrants would not be forcibly repatriated to Sudan or Eritrea, saying that in these countries “we know many would be at risk of their lives”.

Human rights groups say Israel has jailed hundreds of African migrants and taken other steps to get them to agree to leave the country.

A few thousand are believed to have left Israel in the past year since a law enacted in 2012 authorising migrants who lack any official residence permits to be jailed for up to three years, said Sigal Rozen, policy co-ordinator for Hotline for Migrant Workers (HMW), an Israeli human rights group.

In July, a group of 14 Eritreans were repatriated after receiving $1,500 each from Israeli authorities, in what HMW denounced at the time as a “grave human rights violation”, citing Eritrea’s poor human rights record.

At least one group of Africans was flown out of Israel to South Sudan in the past year and other migrants have been offered cash to leave. Some 2,000 Africans are being held in the southern detention centres.

A fortified fence along Israel’s border with Egypt’s Sinai has largely stemmed the flow of migrants, who walked across what was a porous frontier at a rate of up to 2,000 a month in 2011.

Review overview
  • Tekluu Gubtaan August 31, 2013

    Don’t worry no one will be deported as far as Israel is hungry of cheep labour you are going to live there been locked as a beast in a cage .
    It was too easy to stop Africans from coming to Israel. At least they could have sent back the first arrivals in 2007 then the followers could shift their mind.
    The reason for ignoring the flood of refugees was ,”lack labour” 100,000 Palestinians where blocked in 2005 from working in Israeli farms ,construction, restaurants.. then the slaves from east Africa took their place. .lucrative business for the economy that had already begun to shrink and fall harshly ….As far as money matters the business moguls will defend for u dear Eritreans to stay there no panicking relax .

  • Tedros September 1, 2013

    Conspiracy has many faces. Israel will never ever re-export the imported mainly Eritrean refugees! They will be needed in Israel/the Jews as foot soldiers/slaves against the Arabs, longrun seen! Conspiracy theory greets!

  • Semhar September 2, 2013

    1) The government of Israel should give political asylum to all Eritreans who made it to Israel.

    2) The government of Israel should train them, arm them and help them to over through the tyrant dictator Isyas MAFIA in Eritrea.

  • Semhar September 2, 2013

    A massage to the people of Israel:
    Please remember HITLER.
    The Eritreans in Israel are running away from the tyrant dictator ISAYAS the HITLER.

  • asmarino bela March 19, 2014

    Why do you guys forget what the Syrians and Palestinians did for us during our struggle? They helped us a lot.