Uganda Denies Deal With Israel to Accept African Migrants

Civil Rights official sheds doubt on agreement described by Israel.

Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior
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Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior

The government of Uganda has denied that it has made an agreement with Israel to accept African migrants that Israel intends to deport.

“Is not true, it is unfounded, false and misleading that we have such an agreement,” Ugandan foreign affairs ministry spokesman Elly Kamahungye, told the French news agency AFP. “Uganda has a clear policy regarding refugees, on who comes in and who leaves, in line with international law, so it cannot be true in this case that we are receiving such people,”Kamahungye said.

Attorney Oded Feller of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel said Saturday he doubted the existence of such an agreement or that such an agreement could be reached.

“The purpose of statements about an agreement to deport asylum-seekers to a third country is to “influence the High Court justices through the media not to rule on the petition to repeal the law against illegal entry into Israel and to pressure asylum-seekers into leaving the country any way they are offered, even if it endangers their lives,” Feller said.

Uganda was named the East African nation that will take in tens of thousands of African migrants living in Israel on Thursday after a gag order was lifted in response to a request by Haaretz.

The state, however, refused to reveal any details of the agreement.

Sources said Israel will fund the migrants’ flights to Uganda as well as their absorption there. Each migrant will also be given a sum of money, apparently $1,500, to take with him. It was not known what Israel promised to give Uganda in exchange for absorbing the migrants. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees was not involved in the talks between Israel and Uganda and does not know the details.

African migrants in Tel Aviv, August 2013. Credit: Nir Keidar

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