Israel will paying $5000 to Rwanda for every African migrant it accepts as the country looks to deport asylum seekers primarily from Eritrea and Sudan. Additionally, Israel said that it will pay $3500 for every refugee who voluntarily leaves.
Haaretz reported that Israel will not deport women and children, adding that the operation will begin in the upcoming weeks.
Israel currently hosts 40,000 asylum seekers, including 27,500 Sudanese and 7,800 Eritrean refugees, according to the report. Over 1,000 of those refugees are located at the Holot detention centre in the Negev desert, which was approved for closure by Israel’s cabinet on Sunday, according to an Al Jazeera report.
The facility is scheduled to be shut down by mid-March of next year. Civil liberties groups, however, claim that the deportations violate the asylum seekers’ human rights.
“As party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, Israel has legal obligations to protect refugees and other persons in need of international protection,” a UNHCR statement said.
Sigal Rozen, who runs the public policy department at the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, told that the decision to deport is, both domestically and internationally, illegal.
“All this together is created to make them feel unsafe and unwanted,” she said. “[If] they will continue leaving quickly, then there will be no need to deport.”
On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the initiative, saying it was “very important”.
“This removal is enabled thanks to an international agreement I achieved, which allows us to remove the 40,000 remaining infiltrators without their consent,” he said.