Illegal African Migrants Leave or face Jail

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The vast majority came from Eritrea and Sudan and many said they fled war and persecution as well as economic hardship, but Israel treats them as economic migrants.

Data from the Population and Immigration Authority suggests 27,500 asylum seekers from Eritrea are living in Israel, along with 7,900 from Sudan and 2,600 from other African countries.

While minors and their parents will be exempt from the action, all other migrants who do not accept $3,500 to voluntarily leave Israel by the end of March will be denied temporary visas and locked in a Negev prison facility.

"Every country must maintain its borders, and protecting the borders from illegal infiltration is both a right and a basic duty of a sovereign state", he said.

Illegal African Migrants Leave or face Jail
Illegal African Migrants Leave or face Jail

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

The head of the United Nations refugee agency has expressed concern about the plans.

"This plan will get under way today", Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting.

Africans in Israel face discrimination and a poor jobs market, and even those African Jews from the communities around the Horn of Africa face barriers to integration, with some orthodox Jews claiming they are not Jewish at all.

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The arrival of the immigrants and Israel's subsequent attempts to remove them has prompted protests by those who do not want to go home. "We don't know what is waiting for us (in Rwanda and Uganda)", he told Reuters by telephone.

The PIA said they have the option of returning to their home country or a third country, with Rwanda or Uganda being proposed destinations.

This is all part of an Israeli campaign to expel roughly 42,000 illegal African migrants from the country. "The expulsion to Rwanda endangers the very lives of these refugees", the organizations said.

In August, the High Court of Justice of the Near Eastern country ruled that since deportations can only be carried out with the agreement of migrants, the refusal to leave Israel cannot be considered a non-cooperative behavior, nor be punishable by jail.

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Since 2009 when Israel took over the process from the UNHCR to determine who is a refugee, only eight Eritreans and two Sudanese have been granted this status.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday renewed his pledge to forcibly deport African asylum-seekers to Rwanda, whose government will reportedly receive $5,000 per person sent there.

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