Uganda mulls Israeli request to take African migrants - minister

Friday April 13 2018

Migrants protest in Tel Aviv against Israel’s plan to deport African asylum seekers. An Israeli court has temporarily stopped the plan. PHOTO | AFP

Migrants protest in Tel Aviv against Israel’s plan to deport African asylum seekers. An Israeli court has temporarily stopped the plan. PHOTO | AFP 

By REUTERS
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By ALLAN OLINGO
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Uganda is considering a request from Israel to take in 500 migrants from Eritrea and Sudan, a minister said on Friday, the first time the East African nation has acknowledged it is in talks over such a deal.

“The State of Israel working with other refugees’ managing organisations has requested Uganda to allow about 500 Eritreans and Sudanese to relocate to Uganda. The government and ministry are positively considering the request,” Musa Ecweru, Minister of State for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, said in a statement.

About 4,000 migrants have left Israel for Rwanda and Uganda since 2013 under a voluntary programme but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under pressure from his right-wing voter base to expel more than 32,000 immigrants.

In January, Israel started handing out notices to male migrants from Eritrea and Sudan giving them three months to take the voluntary deal with a plane ticket and $3,500 or risk being thrown in jail.

Uganda remained Israel’s only hope for its deportation plan after Rwanda publicly disowned Mr Netanyahu over the deal last week.

A Tel Aviv court was last Thursday told that the Uganda deal was "imminent" and that a special envoy it had dispatched to Kampala had been assured of safe conditions for the immigrants.