Israel announces plans to deport 40,000 African refugees

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Israel’s prime minister announced on Sunday that he has reached an international agreement that could deport 40,000 African refugees from the Middle East nation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet has also approved plans to shut down the Holot migrant detention centre in southern Israel. Now, refugees face a three-month deadline to leave Israel or face deportation.

Israel planning to remove’infiltrators’

The Israeli government says the refugees in question are “infiltrators” who have entered the country without permission. Most of those facing deportation are from Sudan and Eritrea who entered Israel through Egypt in the early-mid 2000s.

“The infiltrators will have the option to be imprisoned or leave the country,” Israel’s Public Security Ministry said about the country’s new plan to deal with the refugees.

Rights groups have slammed Israel’s strategy but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggests more than 40,000 could ultimately be deported.

“This removal is enabled thanks to an international agreement I achieved that enables us to remove the 40,000 remaining infiltrators without their consent. This is very important,” he said. “This will enable us to close down Holot and allocate some of the large funds going there to inspectors and removing more people.”

Rights groups slam Israeli plan

It remains unclear whether Israel’s international agreement involves deporting refugees back to their home nations or moving them on to a third country. However, it seems that plans to close Holot depend on “us seeing that the policy of removing infiltrators to a third country was indeed taking place,” according to comments made by Israel’s public security minister, Gilad Erdan.

Either way, rights groups have slammed the plans announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Instead of turning away refugees within its territory, Israel can and should protect asylum seekers like other countries of the world, instead of imprisoning them or deporting them to continue the journey as refugees,” a coalition of human rights organizations in Israel said.

Featured image: By Hagits – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49319188

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.