On February 4, the Israeli Interior Ministry issued notices to asylum seekers renewing their two month visa, to “leave” the country or face imprisonment in Saharonim Prison. In typical political double speak, Netanyahu instructed government to refer to the ultimatum as a ‘removal’ not ‘deportation.’
The Thirty-eight thousand Eritreans and Sudanese, said to have entered Israel Illegally, have been offered a plane ticket, $3500 dollars, and told to leave by March. Those still there by April, will face arrest. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “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”. The government has come under fire from local humanitarian groups, who maintain that a nation built founded by refugees running from persecution, should have more empathy for the plight of others like them.
Those that cannot return to conflict zones in Sudan and Eritrea, will be taken in by Rwanda and Uganda, on the proviso they accept the Israeli ultimatum. According to usnew.com, Mossi Raz, an Israeli lawmaker, traveled to Rwanda and Uganda as part of a delegation, to substantiate claims regarding this arrangement. However, it seems that no assurances were made regarding the safety of the refugees being “removed” or that indeed they would be welcomed.
The situation to date, remains ambiguous, and Uganda’s national assembly has asked the government to clarify the details of their alleged arrangement with Israel. The U.N. migration agency’s office in Uganda denied any knowledge of this deal. While Musa Ecweru, Uganda’s top refugee official, was not available for comment.