Israeli Government Won't Deport Tens Of Thousands Of African Migrants

Rep. Nita Lowey

The Israeli government said on Tuesday it had abandoned a plan to forcibly deport African migrants who entered the country illegally after failing to find a willing country to take in the migrants.

The government had been working for months on an arrangement to expel thousands of mostly Eritrean and Sudanese men who crossed into Israel through Egypt's Sinai desert.

The High Court has demanded the government present a deportation plan that would safely resettle the migrants in a third country, or set them free from detention.

However, the government said it will still seek to deport the migrants voluntarily, but the move has drawn criticism from rights group, Amnesty International.

African migrants in Israel can now breath a sigh of relief after the Israeli government announced it had shelved plans to deport them by force.

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In a state statement, Israel said it will stop holding pre-deportation hearings for the asylum seekers and all previous decisions to forcefully deport the Africans living in the country have now been nullified.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and interior Minister Aryeh Deri reached agreement on the need for immediate opening of Holot and saharonim. I was so scared every day.

Uganda recently backtracked on a deal with Israel to absorb several thousand migrants following days of negotiations in Kampala.

After pulling out of a United Nations -backed relocation plan a few weeks ago, Israel shifted efforts towards finalizing an arrangement to send the migrants against their will to Uganda. Under the plan, migrants who had chosen to leave by March 31 would receive a payment of $3,500 as well as free airfare and other incentives. That comes after the country's high court granted a petition filed by human rights groups.

Israeli authorities have been handing out notices to asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan since the beginning of the year.

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