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  • Israel scraps plan to forcibly deport African asylum seekers

    After failing to reach an agreement with a 'third country,' Israel announces that its plan to deport tens of thousands of African asylum seekers has collapsed. +972 Magazine Staff The Israeli government informed the High Court Tuesday that its plan to forcibly deport tens of thousands of African asylum seekers has collapsed, after failing to broker a deal with "third countries" to resettle them. [tmwinpost] The government announced that previous deportation orders would be cancelled and that asylum seekers would be able to renew their visas every two months. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced that Holot, an open-air desert detention facility…

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  • In another blow to deportation plan, Israel frees jailed asylum seekers

    Israel frees 200 asylum seekers imprisoned for refusing deportation after the government admits there is no secret agreement with Uganda that allows for the mass deportation of refugees. Israel released 207 Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers on Sunday, all of whom had been indefinitely imprisoned for refusing deportation to Uganda or Rwanda. Israel’s High Court ruled last Tuesday that the government had until Sunday at noon to present a new agreement with Uganda that would allow the mass deportation of refugees to proceed. [tmwinpost] In the absence of an agreement, the Court ordered the government to release all asylum seekers…

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  • Hundreds around the world protest Israel's plan to deport refugees to Uganda

    Demonstrators gather in Tel Aviv and in front Ugandan embassies in cities around the world to protest Israel's plan to deport tens of thousands of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers to Uganda.  Asylum seekers and activists protested in Tel Aviv and outside Ugandan embassies around the world on Monday against Israel's plan to deport tens of thousands of asylum seekers there. After international pressure led Rwanda to back out of a secret agreement to accept asylum seekers deported from Israel, Israel now claims it has an identical agreement with Uganda. [tmwinpost] The demonstrations come just one week after the Israeli government announced it was abandoning its…

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  • Rwanda is out, but Israel says it can still deport refugees to — Uganda?

    International pressure led Rwanda to back out of a secret agreement to take in African asylum seekers deported from Israel. Now Israel says it has a nearly identical agreement with a second country, widely known to be Uganda. Kampala denies any such agreement exists. Israeli insisted on Wednesday that despite the collapse of a deal with Rwanda to forcibly deport tens of thousands of asylum seekers, the mass deportations can continue because an agreement is still in place with a “second third country,” widely believed to be Uganda. [tmwinpost] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the cancelation of the Rwanda deportation…

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  • Racism is the only factor that can sway Netanyahu's base

    For the first time since he took office, Netanyahu did something that angered his loyal base to the extent that they are threatening to vote for another party.  On Monday Benjamin Netanyahu proved two things: one, that his base of fanatically loyal voters are motivated primarily by racism; two, that Facebook's "angry" emoticon can drive government policy that affects the lives of tens of thousands of human beings. [tmwinpost] Netanyahu reversed his government's policy of a decade when, at a Monday evening press conference, he announced that he had made a deal with the UNHCR: rather than giving the asylum seekers, primarily from Sudan and Eritrea, the choice between deportation…

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  • Israel halts refugee deportation plan, UN to help with resettlement [updated]

    After major public campaigns inside Israel and abroad, pressure on the Rwandan government not to accept refugees deported by Israel, and ultimately effective legal challenges, Israel announces it will scrap its mass deportation plan and work with the UN to resettle African asylum seekers in Western countries. This is a huge victory but there may be more fight ahead. [Important update added at the bottom of this article.] The Israeli government announced Monday that it was abandoning its plan to deport tens of thousands of African asylum seekers to Rwanda, following “mutual understandings” it had reached with the UN Refugee…

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  • Israel halts asylum seeker deportations — for now

    Israeli authorities signal they plan to keep the deportation plan on schedule. By Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man and Joshua Leifer Israeli authorities announced that they will temporarily halt, until further notice, the deportation of African asylum seekers to Rwanda and Uganda. Israel will, however, continue to issue deportation notices, and asylum seekers who are already in prison for refusing deportation will not be released. Those processes will continue, the state told the High Court of Justice on Wednesday, “so that the [deportation] plan’s timeline is not delayed.” The decision to temporarily halt the deportations came in response to a petition that…

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  • Israel's secret deportation plan faces biggest challenge yet

    A petition on behalf of 119 human rights activists to Israel's High Court of Justice is the most serious challenge yet to the Israeli government's plan to deport tens of thousands of asylum seekers.  The Israeli government’s plan to deport tens of thousands of African asylum seekers may face its most serious hurdle as the country’s High Court of Justice hears a challenge to the deportation plan, slated to begin in two weeks. The deportation plan is based on an agreement between Israel and Rwanda, which Israel insists must remain secret and which Rwanda has denied even exists. [tmwinpost] Supreme…

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  • Pushed out by Israel, asylum seekers find only limbo in Uganda

    By Oren Ziv KAMPALA, Uganda — “Why should Uganda take in the people Israel doesn’t want?” asks Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, a Ugandan member of parliament who joined us in a cafe in central Kampala. “If they’re being sent by the UN, they’ll be treated like all refugees, in a temporary manner because of the problems in their countries,” Nganda continues. He insisted on meeting us, after hearing that a small delegation of Knesset members was visiting his country from Israel. “Uganda will not become a dumping ground that whoever thinks they cannot host people — that you throw them in…

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  • Sent to Rwanda by Israel: 'We have no food or work. Don't come here'

    Ahead of a mass planned deportation, +972 Magazine joins two members of Knesset on a trip to Rwanda and Uganda to investigate what happens to the asylum seekers Israel is sending there. The one thing that remained most elusive: a future for asylum seekers pushed out of Israel. By Oren Ziv KIGALI, Rwanda — A dark cloud of ambiguity and fear has settled over Rwanda in the past few days. According to workers in international humanitarian organizations, the protests against the deportation of asylum seekers, held outside the country's embassies in Israel and across the world, have put pressure on the…

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  • Live blog: Global protests against Israeli plans to deport refugees

    Protests are expected outside Rwandan embassies around the world Wednesday as Israel moves forward with its plan to deport tens of thousands of asylum seekers, most of whom fled Eritrea and Sudan. By +972 Magazine Staff [This live blog has ended.] Activists hope Israel's deportation plan can be stopped if Rwanda pulls out of its secret deal with Israel. Israeli officials claim they have a secret agreement with an African country — widely presumed to be Rwanda —according to which that country will accept refugees deported from Israel. Rwandan officials, however, have repeatedly denied the existence of any agreement with Israel and…

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  • Asylum seekers sent to Rwanda warn: 'If you don’t want to die, stay in Israel'

    Israeli officials often imply that African asylum seekers sent to Rwanda will receive legal status and the ability to build a life there. Testimonies collected in a new report paint an entirely different — and much grimmer — picture.  “I saw 400 people [in the Mediterranean]. They drowned […] many children died, I remember. I don’t have the strength to talk about it.” “[In the Sahara] people died and we buried them […] At night it returns to our head. It returns. I don’t want to remember. It wakes me up, what I saw, people dying, no food.” "[In Uganda] they…

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  • Thousands of asylum seekers protest deportation outside Rwandan embassy

    The demonstration, held by African asylum seekers, Israelis, and international activists, marks the opening of a new front in the struggle against the deportation.  Approximately 2,000 asylum seekers demonstrated outside of the Rwandan embassy in Herzilya on Monday against the Israeli government’s plan to deport them. The demonstrators, joined by Israeli and international human rights activists, chanted “We are Eritrean, we are not Rwandan” and “refugees are not for sale.” [tmwinpost] “Israel must check our asylum requests and provide us protection,” the organizers of the protest said. “We are demanding that the Rwandan embassy oppose any agreements with Israel.” The protest…

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