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Independent.co.uk: Israel orders African refugees to leave country within three months or face prison

Posted by: Berhane Habtemariam

Date: Wednesday, 03 January 2018

Israel orders African refugees to leave country within three months or face prison

Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, calls them 'infiltrators' 

 
African asylum seekers, mostly from Eritrea, take part in a protest against Israel's deportation policy last year Getty

The Israeli government has ordered thousands of African refugees and migrants to leave the country within three months or face prison.

The Population and Immigration Authority called this week on those from Sudan and Eritrea to leave "to their country or to a third country", meaning Rwanda or Uganda.

Those who leave by the end of March will be given $3,500 (£2,600), along with money to cover their airfare. But those who do not have been threatened with imprisonment.

Children, the elderly and victims of human trafficking are exempt from the action.

Campaign group the Hotline for Migrant Workers condemned the move, saying expulsions "put the refugees' lives in danger”.

Thousands of Africans crossed from Egypt into Israel before it erected a fence along the border.

Israel calls them "infiltrators" and says they are mostly economic migrants whose numbers threaten its Jewish character.

But many of the roughly 38,000 “infiltrators” in the country have fled conflict and persecution.

Data from the Population and Immigration Authority suggests 27,500 asylum seekers from Eritrea are living in Israel, along with 7,900 from Sudan and 2,600 from other African countries.

Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has previously rejected claims that those coming from countries including Rwanda and Uganda are asylum seekers.

"We will return south Tel Aviv to the citizens of Israel, they are not refugees, but infiltrators looking for work," he said in August. 

Additional reporting by agencies

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