Israel Scraps Deportation Plan, Will Reopen Detention Centers for Illegal African Migrants

by Abel Hampton April 28, 2018, 15:00
Israel Scraps Deportation Plan, Will Reopen Detention Centers for Illegal African Migrants

On Tuesday, Israel announced that it will not be deporting asylum seekers to third-party countries in a document addressing the High Court.

Israel has until now classified the refugees, most from Sudan and Eritrea, as illegal immigrants, with asylum applications approved nearly only in exceptional cases.

The immigration authority is still planning to deport the illegal migrants voluntarily.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Arye Deri agreed Tuesday that preparations for the reopening of detention centers for asylum seekers will begin immediately.

"Many of us have heard in recent months from constituents who care deeply about Israel and who are also gravely concerned with the respect to the future of the approximately 38,000 asylum seekers living in the Jewish state", the letter said.

The asylum seekers will have to renew their visas every 60 days as they did before the deportation plan. "I am used to the place", said Ristom Haliesilase, a 34-year-old Eritrean who lives in Tel Aviv, working as a carer for the elderly.

Since 2013, some 4,000 migrants have left Israel for Rwanda and Uganda under Israel's voluntary program.

The fate of some 37,000 Africans in Israel has posed a moral dilemma for a state founded as a haven for Jews from persecution and a national home.

After leaving a UN-backed relocation plan a few weeks ago, Israel shifted efforts towards finalising an arrangement to send the migrants against their will to Uganda.

This forced a number of migrant rights groups to petition the Supreme Court to block any such policy.

The cancelations came after a political pressure by ultra-nationalist ministers not to allow any African asylum seeker to stay in Israel. The deal stipulated that they would be jailed if they fail to leave the country.

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