Israel cancels plan to deport migrants

A protest in Tel Aviv against the Israeli proposal to deport migrants.

A protest in Tel Aviv against the Israeli proposal to deport migrants.   | Photo Credit: AP

They will be settled in Western nations

Israel announced on Monday that it had reached a deal with the UN refugee agency to cancel a controversial plan to deport African migrants and replace it with a new one that will see thousands sent to Western countries.

A minimum of 16,250 migrants will be resettled in unspecified Western nations under the agreement announced in a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.

Mr. Netanyahu in January announced the implementation of a programme to remove migrants who entered illegally, giving them a choice between leaving voluntarily and facing indefinite imprisonment.

42,000 African migrants

According to Interior Ministry figures, there are currently some 42,000 African migrants in Israel, half of them children, women or men with families, who were not facing immediate deportation. They are mainly Sudanese and Eritrean.

As the migrants could face danger or imprisonment if returned to their homelands, Israel offered to relocate them to an unnamed African country, which deportees and aid workers said was Rwanda or Uganda. They had initially been given a deadline of April 1, but Israel’s Supreme Court suspended the plan on March 15 while it continued to examine it. The statement on Monday said the new plan meant there was no longer a need to send migrants to unnamed third countries.

Migrants began entering Israel through what was then a porous Egyptian border in 2007. The border has since been strengthened, all but ending illegal crossings.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 5:43:27 AM |

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