Israel agrees to send asylum seekers West instead of to Africa


By Middle East Affairs

Israel came to an agreement Monday with the United Nations and will cancel its mass deportation plan for asylum seekers, Haaretz reports.

The agreement with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will allow 16,000 asylum seekers to be absorbed by Western countries. Many of the 39,000 asylum seekers in Israel are from Sudan and Eritrea. The deportation would have been to Uganda and Rwanda.

According to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Office, he and Interior Minister Arye Dery decided to cancel the deportation “because of legal considerations and political difficulties on behalf of third-party countries.”

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit approved the deal, and the Movement to Halt the Deportation of Asylum Seekers said it was an achievement of the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who called on their government not to deport the refugees under uncertain circumstances.

“This agreement would not have happened without dozens of organizations and the contribution of numerous people,” the movement stated.

Netanyahu’s statement said that Israel will help the asylum seekers with their status as well, and it will be implemented in three phases over five years. Finally, the neighborhoods in Tel Aviv where they live will be improved.

The statement also said efforts will be made to “encourage a more balanced geographic distribution of the populations who will remain in Israel, while providing vocational advising and professional training.”



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