UNHCR urges Netanyahu to reconsider migrants agreement

Since 2005 a total of 64,000 Africans have entered Israel illegally over its border with Egypt.

April 3, 2018 17:52
1 minute read.
migrants protest

Crowds protest cancelling the UNHCR migrants deal outside the Ministry of Interior in Tel Aviv, April 3, 2018.. (photo credit: TAMARA ZIEVE)


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The UN refugee agency on Tuesday called for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reconsider implementing the migrants deal signed by the government and the agency on Monday, before he canceled it the next day.

“It is with disappointment that UNHCR notes today’s cancellation by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the Israel-UNHCR Agreement of 2nd April on solutions for Eritreans and Sudanese currently in Israel,” the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, headed by High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, said.

“The agreement was the result of discussions over an extended period of time, and reflected a shared effort to find a solution that gave international protection to people arriving in Israel fleeing war or persecution while also meeting the concerns of Israeli host communities,” it continued.

The agency noted that it sees the agreement as a “win-win” that would benefit both Israel and asylum-seekers.
UNHCR hopes Netanyahu gets support to implement agreement on refugees’ relocation, April 3, 2018 (Reuters)

“And we encourage the government of Israel to consider the matter further, while standing ready to be of help,” the UNHCR said.

The agreement allowed for some 16,000 African asylum-seekers to be resettled in Western countries, while an additional 23,000 would be permitted to remain in Israel.

Israeli human rights organizations slammed Netanyahu’s flip-flopping on the deal, releasing a joint statement that denounced the government for neglecting the common good of Israel’s citizens and residents, as well as its moral, legal and international commitments.

“The truth was revealed yesterday – Netanyahu and [Interior Minister Arye] Deri themselves admitted that there were no agreements, that there will be no forced deportation, and in the meantime freedom has been denied to the 280 asylum-seekers who are still imprisoned in Saharonim [Prison] because of a canceled agreement, without any legal justification,” the statement read.

The groups called on Israel to absorb 35,000 asylum-seekers; create fair immigration policy; establish a functioning asylum system; distribute the migrants throughout the country; and rehabilitate neighborhoods in south Tel Aviv.

The groups that jointly released the statement were the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, the Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum- Seekers in Israel, Physicians for Human Rights, Kav LaOved, Amnesty International Israel, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

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