Israeli authorities seeking to expel up to 40,000 migrants have cut a deal with Rwanda, reportedly paying USD$5,000 to Paul Kagame’s government for every deported African asylum seeker the country accepts. The plan, introduced last week by Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, was approved on Sunday, according to Israeli media.
President Benjamin Netanyahu said the deportations of primarily Eritrean and Sudanese migrants “can be carried out thanks to an international agreement which I obtained which allows us to deport the 40,000 remaining infiltrators against their will.” The country plans to close a key immigration facility in the next few months, leaving African migrants with the option of “voluntary departure” or going to jail.
It’s the latest development in forced deportations to Rwanda and Uganda, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The UNHCR issued a statement last week expressing their reservations about the forced relocation plans that Israel has advanced in recent years. There are about 27,500 Eritreans and 7,800 Sudanese refugees in Israel, UNHCR said, but only 200 Sudanese from Darfur have received humanitarian status, while just 10 others have been officially recognized since 2009.
“Due to the secrecy surrounding this policy and the lack of transparency concerning its implementation, it has been very difficult for UNHCR to follow up and systematically monitor the situation of people relocated to these African countries,” the statement said. “UNHCR, however, is concerned that these persons have not found adequate safety or a durable solution to their plight and that many have subsequently attempted dangerous onward movements within Africa or to Europe.”
Rwanda also has offered to accept up to 30,000 African migrants trapped in Libya or assist in their relocation, a move that African Union Commission chief Moussi Faki Mahamat welcomed on Wednesday.
Image: JTA file