Reports: No Uganda deal for Israel’s migrants; Zambia named as possible alternative
Zambia is the latest African nation reportedly in talks with the Israeli government to accept thousands of African migrants that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to expel from his country.
An Israel Radio report said Monday the southern African nation, along with unnamed others, are the latest engaged in talks with the Israeli government. The report followed news that there is no deal yet with Uganda to accept any of the 39,000 primarily Eritrean and Sudanese migrants who’ve lived in Israel in recent years, and it comes after the release on Sunday of at least 200 detainees held in an Israeli facility because of the impasse.
A special envoy notified Israel’s High Court on Monday that any deal with Uganda – long speculated but only recently acknowledged – has yet to be finalized.
The developments come as Netanyahu last week said he was walking away from an agreement with the United Nations humanitarian agency that would have resettled nearly half of the migrants in Western nations and allowed temporary protected status for an equal number in Israel. Part of that agreement would encourage African migrants to move from the south Tel Aviv neighborhoods where they have developed ethnic enclaves and support them in that transition.
“UNHCR has been working closely with the State of Israel to identify and respond to the protection needs of asylum-seekers in the country,” the agency said in an April 2 statement. It acknowledged ongoing concerns over forced relocations to African destinations and sought to prevent Israel from any compensated deal with Rwanda, Uganda or other nations where conditions may not support migrants.
Image: JTA File