Uganda is to host over 2000 African immigrants that will be expelled from Israel, an online news agency in the Middle Eastern nation has reported. But the Uganda government denies that such a deal was signed. David Kazungu, the Director for Refugees in the Office of the Prime Minister, says such a deal would be a violation of key international agreements to which the Ugandan government is party.
Uganda is to host over 2000 African immigrants that will be expelled from Israel, an online news agency in the Middle Eastern nation has reported.
Haaretz reports that the identity of the host country was revealed after a gag order was lifted on Thursday in response to a request by the news agency.
A gag order earlier placed on the access of information regarding the country to which Israel had agreed to deport the immigrants was lifted by the courts on Thursday following a request by Haaretz.
The African immigrants mainly Eritreans and Sudanese will begin leaving the country soon with the support of the Israeli government heading to Uganda from where they will be settled or transited to their host countries with financial aid from the Israeli government.
It is reported by Haaretz that on Thursday, the Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein endorsed the deal after verifying that the country to which the refugees were being sent was party to the convention on refugees and has a mechanism for receiving and protecting refugees in its boundaries.
But the Uganda government denies that such a deal was signed. David Kazungu, the Director for Refugees in the Office of the Prime Minister, dismisses the claims as false. He says the deal would be a violation of key international agreements which the Ugandan government is party to and thus they cannot do it.
Musa Ecweru, State Minister for Relief and Disaster Preparedness, while dismissing the existence of the said agreement with Israel, said the Israeli government officials have been coming to Uganda to hold talks focusing on Agricultural technology. Ecweru says the first meeting was in 2011, with another one taking place in last year.
According to Haaretz, Israel will fund the migrants’ flights to Uganda as well as their absorption here. Each migrant will also be given up to 1,500 US dollars to take with them.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees was not involved in the talks between Israel and Uganda and does not know the details.
Israeli Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar told the Interior Committee of the Knesset or Parliament on Wednesday that migrants who had entered the country illegally would be transferred to a third country in an operation due to begin at the end of September. He noted that the state will define target groups, according to their year of entry into Israel and tell them what the deadline is to leave the country voluntarily.
Hareetz quotes the minister as saying that after the deadline Israel will no longer renew their residency permits and will begin to enforce the laws against their employment, contrary to lenient policy in place until now.
The Interior Ministry clarified that Eritrean and Sudanese nationals would not be deported from Israel against their will. However, once their residency permits have been cancelled, the state will be able to keep them in detention.
Human rights organisations expressed doubt over the deal in a joint press release. The organisations that include Amnesty International Israel note that Uganda is not a safe place for refugees. The NGOs argue that the deal is simply part of a ploy to pressure the immigrants to apply to leave the country.
The deal gives Uganda an option of either hosting the refugees or act as a transit for the refugees to their home countries.
According to Hareetz, part of the deal involves receiving arms from Israel.
According to UNHCR, Uganda currently has estimated 200,000 refugees and another 28,000 asylum seekers mainly from Rwanda, DRC, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia.