Uganda reportedly reaffirms denial of deal with Israel to absorb African migrants

Ugandan FM says no such arrangement has been made unless it's being done illegally, according to local media.

April 29, 2015 15:57
1 minute read.
African refugees

AFRICAN MIGRANTS sit on pipes outside Holot, a detention centre in Israel’s southern Negev desert.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Ugandan officials denied that a deal has been reached with Israel to absorb African migrants deported from Israel, according to a report in Ugandan newspaper The New Vision on Tuesday.

The report quotes Uganda's foreign minister, Okello Oyrem as saying "I have talked to the minister of Internal Affairs and my permanent secretary and there is no such arrangement unless it is being done illegally."

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It also quotes Uganda's internal affairs ministry spokeswoman, Pamela Nkunda as saying that reports that refugees from Israel were deported to Uganda are false, and included similar comments from Kampala's permanent secretary of  the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office.

The report, which was sent to Israeli journalists by the Hotline for Migrant Workers, was written almost a month after the Population, Immigration, and Borders Authority said that they would begin a new process to get African migrants to leave Israel for their home countries or a third country. The third country has long been reported to be Uganda and Rwanda. Earlier in April, African media outlets reported that Rwanda had confirmed the deal, with president Paul Kagame quoted as saying that the country is finalizing a multimillion dollar deal with Israel to receive asylum seekers deported from the country.

An earlier denial of such a deal was made by Ugandan officials in August 2013, after the military censor lifted a gag order on reporting that the country had agreed to absorb African migrants.

The deals with third countries are part of a package of efforts by the Israeli government to encourage African migrants to leave the country, including the threat of detention and also one-time stipends to agree to leave.

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