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03 April 2018, 02:57 | Mandy Simon
REUTERS Amir Cohen Peace Accord With'Anti-Semite Erdogan May Have Been Mistake- Israeli Minister
Israel and the United Nations reached a deal on Monday to send some 16,000 African asylum seekers to Western counties, nixing a controversial deportation plan.
According to the agreement, about 16,250 of about 37,000 African migrants, a lot of them from Eritrea and Sudan, would be relocated to Western nations while others would be allowed to stay in Israel.
The announcement comes a day before the deadline imposed by the Israeli government in January, giving some 38,000 undocumented African migrants the choice between indefinite imprisonment with eventual forced expulsion, or a $3,500 payment and a plane ticket back to their home countries or to Rwanda and Uganda - with which Israel struck deals in 2017 and 2013 to accept migrants in exchange for modest sums of money.
The UN High Commission for Refugees has committed to finding places in Western nations for at least 16,250 of the African migrants from Eritrea and Sudan.
According to interior ministry figures, majority of the 42,000 Africans half of them children, women or men with families were from Sudanese and Eritrean.
Mr Netanyahu's office noted that the initial plans to send the migrants to third-country destinations had encountered legal constraints and political difficulties and that the government had to adopt a new approach as result.
The deportations were meant to begin on Sunday but it was blocked by Israel's Supreme.
Religious and conservative politicians have portrayed the presence of Muslim and Christian Africans as a threat to Israel's Jewish character.
Numerous migrants say they came to Israel to seek asylum after fleeing persecution, conflict, and in the case of Eritreans, forced, lifelong conscription to its army, but Israeli authorities regard them as economic migrants.
"The agreement stipulates that for each migrant who leaves the country, we commit to give temporary residence status to another", Netanyahu himself said in a televised address.
The Africans started moving toward Israel in 2005, after neighbouring Egypt violently quashed a refugee demonstration, and word spread of safety and job opportunities in Israel. The border has since been strengthened, all but ending illegal crossings.
Some Holot inmates were transferred to the nearby Saharonim prison.
Another 300 had been freed after agreeing to leave Israel, according to Israel's immigration authority. Any illegal immigrants who did not have pending asylum claims were to be deported beginning in April.
Mr Bottinick said that one aim would be to train asylum-seekers in sectors where they have a competitive advantage.
The optics of black asylum seekers accusing the country of racism has turned into a public relations liability for Israel, and groups of Israeli doctors, academics, poets, Holocaust survivors, rabbis and pilots had all appealed to halt the government's original deportation plan.
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