Israeli government ministers approved providing asylum seekers with a grant before their deportation to an underdeveloped country in Africa. However, the Rwandan and Ugandan governments deny making any deal with Israel to absorb the African asylum seekers, who must leave Israel within the next few months.
African asylum seekers protesting the government’s policy Photo Credit: Flash90/Sebi Berens
On Wednesday, Israeli government ministers approved a deal to deport African asylum seekers and migrants. According to the agreement, the government is offering a grant to those who leave Israel for “Third World countries” in Africa, such as Rwanda and Uganda. However, the Rwandan and Ugandan governments are denying making any deal with Israel to take in the asylum seekers. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made clear that the asylum seekers and migrants “will leave anyway.”
The “Voluntary Departure” grant of $3,500 to be given to asylum seekers will decrease if they do not leave Israel within the next few months. A total of 150 million NIS (about $43.5 million) has been allocated for the grant, which the government believes will incentivize the African asylum seekers and migrants to leave the country.
Before Israel constructed a border fence with Egypt, tens of thousands of Africans entered Israel, many of whom claim that they were fleeing war and sought refugee status, according to the Associated Press (AP). The Hotline for Migrant Workers, an advocacy group based in Israel, denounced the deportations, saying that they “put the refugees’ lives in danger.”
The AP also reported that Rwandan Deputy Foreign Minister Olivier Nduhungirehe stated that his country never agreed to absorb these asylum seekers. “There were negotiations like three or four years ago between the two countries, but we never concluded on the matter,” Nduhungirehe said.