Rwanda Confirms Finalizing Deal With Israel to Accept Asylum Seekers

President Paul Kagame confirms that his country has been approached to receive Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers; a second newspaper says Uganda is considering the offer.

Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Rwanda is finalizing a deal to accept Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers deported by Israel, and Uganda will consider doing so, African newspapers have reported, citing Rwandan and Ugandan officials.

Israel said last week that two African countries had agreed to accept asylum seekers, but Jerusalem declined to give the countries’ names. Israel is deporting asylum seekers even without their consent, but not to Eritrea or Sudan, where their lives could be in danger.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame says his country is finalizing what newspaper The East African calls a “multimillion dollar” deal to receive asylum seekers from Israel. Rwandan immigration officials are reportedly handling the talks.

“On Rwanda and Israel, yes, I know there has been this discussion and it has been a debate in Israel about these Africans who have migrated to Israel as they do to other European countries,” Kagame told a news conference in Kigali late last week, The East African reported. “Some of them are either there illegally or with different status.”

According to Kagame, “I do not know the details this far ... [but ] there is some package they [the Israelis] give them to leave, so we have been approached.”

Meanwhile, Ugandan Foreign Minister Henry Oryem Okello said his country had to look into Israel’s offer to send it asylum seekers, The Daily Monitor reported.

According to the Ugandan paper, even though no agreement between Uganda and Israel was in place, asylum seekers were slowly entering the country. An immigration official told the paper that asylum seekers arrive with one-way tickets and receive temporary visas upon entry.