Uganda denies reports of hosting African migrants from Israel

Israel tells illegal Africans to leave before April or face jail

The Israeli government plans to notify thousands of African migrants in the country that they must leave within three months or face imprisonment.

Israel said on Wednesday that it would pay thousands of Africa migrants living illegally in the country to leave, threatening them with jail if they are caught after the end of March.

However, the Israeli government has termed them "infiltrators" and says they are mainly economic migrants whose presence in large numbers threatens Israel's Jewish character.

Israel has granted asylum to fewer than 1 percent of those who have applied, with the aim of getting most of the migrants to return to their home countries.

Those who cooperate and leave by the end of March will receive $3,500, along with airfare and other incentives, as reported by multiple outlets.

Numerous migrants say they came to Israel to seek asylum after fleeing persecution and conflict, but the authorities regard them as economic migrants.

Right groups say the move would violate both worldwide and Israeli laws.

Christian African Eritrean migrants walking outside a makeshift church in southern Tel Aviv on 2 September 2017
Christian African Eritrean migrants walking outside a makeshift church in southern Tel Aviv on 2 September 2017

"We have no agreement with the Israeli government to send refugees from other countries that are in Israel to Uganda".

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly asked his security adviser on Wednesday to draw up a plan to forcibly expel undocumented asylum seekers, even as ministers approved a plan to imprison illegal migrants who refuse to leave "voluntarily".

African illegal migrants carry their belongings following their release from the Holot Detention Centre in Israel's Negev desert, on August 25, 2015.

Israel tacitly recognises that the Sudanese and Eritreans can not be returned to their unsafe homelands, so it has signed deals with Rwanda and Uganda, which agree to accept departing migrants on condition they consent to the arrangement, activists say.

"It has published a denial, although I have to say that Uganda has for years been denying that it has some kind of deal with Israel", he said.

Campaign group the Hotline for Migrant Workers condemned the move, saying expulsions "put the refugees' lives in danger". "All the evidence indicates that anyone expelled from Israel to Rwanda finds himself there without status and without rights, exposed to threats, kidnappings, torture and trafficking", the letter from the activist groups said.

Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper reported in August previous year that Israel's top court ruled that African asylum seekers can be deported to Rwanda and Uganda.

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