One hundred and sixty eight African migrants from Eritrea and Sudan left Israel in the month of August, the Population, Immigration, and Borders Authority said Sunday. PIBA said that also in August no migrants entered Israel from Egypt, in contrast to 193 who entered Israel in August 2012.
While PIBA said that all 168 left voluntarily, they did not say how many of them agreed to leave while still imprisoned in Israeli detention centers. The issue of voluntary returns of migrants in detention centers is a controversial one, with opponents saying that consent cannot truly be given by someone whose only alternative to continued incarceration is to agree to be deported.
Following the lifting of a gag order last Thursday, it was reported that Israel has finalized an agreement with Uganda, under which the East African country would agree to absorb thousands of African migrants deported by Israel, as well as allow others to return to Eritrea or Sudan by way of their territory. Various reports in the Israeli press in the past have stated that it is believed that the deal was brokered partly with an understanding that Israel would provide aid and/or military assistance to what was then a still unnamed African country.
The day after Uganda was named last Thursday, the country denied that any such deal was signed, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Elly Kamahungye saying “we're not aware of any such deal. There's no way Uganda would enter such an arrangement," according to Reuters.