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

President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea addresses the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly, 2011.
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.