Uganda opts out of African migrants relocation deal proposed by Israel
The Ugandan government has refused to take in any refugees from Israel who’re not willing to be repatriated voluntarily.
According to a report on the observer, Uganda Foreign Affairs state minister, Henry Okello Oryem confirmed that there was no deal with the Israeli government because they failed to reach a consensus on the status of the refugees. He said although it was the Israeli government that announced the suspension of the deal, it was Uganda that opted out of the deal after failing to agree with Israel.
“The government of Uganda refuses to take in any refugees from Israel who’re coming to Uganda unless they’re willing to come to Uganda voluntarily. Those who are willing to come to Uganda voluntarily, we can only take in 500 of them. Those who are forced out of Israel, we shall not accept them.” said Oryem.
It has been widely reported by several international media that Israel was planning to deport hundreds of migrants to several African countries including Rwanda and Uganda.
Last month, the Israeli government told High court in Jerusalem that it had dropped plans to deport hundreds of Eritrean and Sudan refugees after failing to reach an agreement with a ‘third country’. Uganda government had previously denied that such a deal existed.
Israel backed out of the deal owing to pressure from several civil society and rights against the forceful deportation of the refugees. The critics called the forceful deportation unethical, saying it would taint the country’s image.
It came after it was widely reported that Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to deport 38,000 African migrants to a third country in January this year, prompting an outcry from activists across the world.
Israel started handing out notices with a plane ticket to male migrants from Eritrea and Sudan giving them three months to take the voluntary deal and $3,500.
Information published by the Israel media indicates that 1,749 migrants have been deported to Uganda since 2015.
Only ten Eritreans and one Sudanese have been recognized as refugees since Israel took over refugee status determination from UNHCR in 2009. Another 200 Sudanese, all from Darfur, were granted humanitarian status in Israel. There was an announcement that another 300 will follow.
Israel has not received any Eritreans or Sudanese since May 2016, according to UNHCR records. Unconfirmed reports initially stated that more than 4,000 asylum seekers forcefully removed from Israel, were dumped in two African countries believed to be Uganda and Rwanda through the forced relocation that began in December 2013.
Media reports suggested that the three countries cut a secret, high-level deal in which the African states accepted refugees in return for arms, military training and other aid from Israel. However, government officials described the report as false.