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Haaretz: Israel secretly shipping African asylum seekers to Uganda



by Joseph Earnest  February 20, 2014


Newscast Media TEL AVIV—African asylum seekers in Israel, are being re-routed to Uganda for political asylum, according to Israeli news outlet Haaretz.  According to Haaretz, a senior government official said that over the past month, dozens of asylum seekers have agreed to leave Israel for Uganda, and some have already left.


In June of 2013, the state of Israel told the High Court of Justice that it had reached an arrangement with a third country that would agree to accept asylum seekers from Africa, but would not reveal the name of the country. Senior officials confirmed that the country was Uganda; however, the state would not discuss the agreement and the Ugandan government denied the existence of such an agreement.

MK Michal Rozin (Meretz), chairwoman of the Knesset Foreign Workers Committee, said: "How can it be that six months ago the interior minister announced with great fanfare, 'Look, we have an agreement with a third country and now we can move thousands there,' and now suddenly we hear testimony about the voluntary move of asylum seekers to Uganda without an agreement."

Rozin, who said the secrecy made it look like an agreement that the government did not want to show the public, asked Sa’ar for clarifications, but he has not yet responded.

Research by the Population and Immigration Authority reveals, as of September 2013 there were 53,646 asylum seekers from Africa in Israel, among them 35,987 Eritreans, 13,249 Sudanese and 4,400 people from other countries.

According to the cabinet decision, all asylum seekers from Africa who leave the country by the end of the month via the "voluntary departure" procedure will receive a $3,500 grant for deporting themselves out of good faith. (pop-up)

Haaretz reports that Many of those leaving by this procedure are apparently detainees at the Saharonim detention center or have been required to stay at Holot.

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