Rwandan President Paul Kagame has said Kigali would take in immigrants deported from Israel provided the process complies with international law.
President Kagame met with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday.
After the talks, Mr Netanyahu’s office said the two leaders discussed a range of issues including bilateral cooperation and that of migrants.
“Regarding the migrant issue, Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed with President Kagame, who made it clear that he would only accept a process that fully complies with international law,” the Israeli PM’s office tweeted.
Rwanda has increasingly come under pressure from immigrants and human rights groups after earlier reports indicated that the country, along with Uganda, had offered to take in 40,000 -or so African refugees in Israel. The two countries have since denied being part of the deal.
Israel has given immigrants, mainly Sudanese and Eritreans, until end of March to leave or they would be jailed or forcibly deported. Those who voluntarily choose to leave will be given between $3,500 and $5,000, with the recipient government receiving $5,000 per migrant, reports on the deal say.
Mr Kagame’s comments come days after his government was forced to respond to African refugees and asylum seekers who staged a protest outside the Rwandan embassy in Tel Aviv urging Kigali not to accept those deported from Israel.
Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ms Louise Mushikiwabo insisted that Rwanda had no such deal with Israel, but said Kigali’s “doors remain open” to African immigrants in need of a home.
The deportations are also facing growing opposition in Israel with media reports indicating that pilots have declined to fly planes that would carry the immigrants away and a group of rabbis saying they would protect the refugees by hiding them.