Eritrea's Leader Criticizes Israel Migrant Deportation Plan

In rare interview Eritrea's president says African migrants deserve far more than the $3,500 offered by Israel to leave

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President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea addresses the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly, 2011.
President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea addresses the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly, 2011. Credit: Jason DeCrow/AP

Eritrea's president in a rare interview is expressing his displeasure with Israel's plan to deport tens of thousands of African migrants, saying they deserve far more than the $3,500 offered to leave.

President Isaias Afwerki's interview posted on a government website Wednesday says the migrants from his country and Sudan paid a "high price" to human traffickers to reach Israel and deserve more like $50,000.

Many leaving the east African nation claim they fled a restrictive Eritrean regime where men are often forced into a military service with slavery-like conditions.

Afwerki claims the Eritrean migrants were enticed abroad to organize an armed opposition but that the "subversive schemes" failed and the migrants have become a burden.

He says Eritrea has offered to register all its migrants but Israeli authorities refused.

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