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Uganda denies agreement with Israel on asylum seekers

The Ugandan government officially denies claims it has signed an agreement with Israel, whereby it would absorb forcefully deported Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers. The Israeli government has resisted calls to divulge the details of the agreements it had allegedly signed with ‘third countries.’

African asylum seekers arrive at Israel’s Holot detention facility in the Negev desert, February 18, 2014. (Photo: Activestills.org) Israel’s High Court has twice struck down the law allowing the indefinite detention of asylum seekers.

African asylum seekers arrive at Israel’s Holot detention facility in the Negev desert, February 18, 2014. (Photo: Activestills.org) Israel’s High Court has twice struck down the law allowing the indefinite detention of asylum seekers.

Government officials in Uganda deny there is any agreement with Israel on the deportation of asylum seekers into the country, according to the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, citing Ugandan daily New Vision. In the report, published Tuesday, Uganda’s Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs James Mugume is quoted as saying: “Neither the minister [of internal affairs] nor myself has any idea about it. We do not have any arrangement for receiving refugees from Israel.”

Nearly a month ago the Israeli government announced its intention to begin forcefully deporting Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers to “third countries” – which are assumed to be Rwanda and Uganda, although Israeli authorities have yet to reveal any information. Refugee organizations have continuously voiced concern that these third countries do not guarantee the safety of asylum seekers and have called on Israel to be divulge the details of these obscure agreements.

Last week, at least three Eritrean asylum seekers who lived in Israel and were deported to a third country were executed by Islamic State militants in Libya. And on Tuesday, Ali Rasta, another Eritrean asylum seeker who had been an inmate in Israel’s Holot detention center, was reportedly murdered in Khartoum. According to asylum seeker activist and Holot inmate Mutasim Ali, he was forced to leave Israel for a third country, and then ended up in Sudan.

“The Ugandan government’s sweeping denial is disconcerting, and it illustrates the gap between Israel’s promises and the reality on the ground,” the Hotline for Migrants and Refugees said in a statement. The organization said it has testimonies of asylum seekers who were forced to leave Israel for Uganda and then realized they had no legal status there – contrary to what Israel had informed them.

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    1. Pedro X

      These economic migrants have choices. They can go home or to a third country. They cannot stay in Israel.

      Reply to Comment
      • Weiss

        This behavior is just plain DISGUSTING…

        And the racists who cheer it on , are as complicit as their War Criminal leaders are …

        Reply to Comment
    2. Ben

      Why all the sneaking about and subterfuge if your conscience is clear and your legal position is solid?

      “Sadly, none of the parties likely to join Netanyahu’s new government is about to make solving the migrant tragedy a condition for supporting the coalition. Not even the Labor Party, whose participation now seems almost inevitable. Party leaders will walk out over who gets to be deputy religious services minister, but not to save the lives of 55,000 foreign nationals who can’t vote. On the other hand, right after the election is the best time to press the new government on the issue, because neither are there votes to be lost. Focused lobbying by influential Jewish-American groups for a reasonable solution that will allow the migrants to remain can succeed.

      This could be a shining moment for Israel-Diaspora relations. Explain the obvious to Israelis, without rancor. God knows, you have enough media experts to craft the message. Explain that a country of 8.345 million, with a strong economy and low unemployment, can easily absorb a peaceful community of 55,000 grateful guest workers.

      This isn’t about politics or PR, it’s just common sense. Call it tikkun olam if you like, call it humanism or Zionism or Jewish values, whatever works. This is a global humanitarian crisis, but it is our crisis as well. And at least the part of it that is in our little corner of the world can be solved, and now is the time to do it”

      Reply to Comment
      • BigCat

        Brian….eh… “Ben” how come you always run out of ideas after just one sentence and as a result resort to (as usual) copying and pasting whole opinion piece from Haaretz to substitute for your empty mind and incompetence? Wiewf, Brian, that is getting too embarrassing….LOL.

        Do you know, Brian, that the refugee crisis in your own country (the United States) is far greater and far worse than in Israel? Obviously you neither know that nor care about the inhumane situation of tens of thousands of refugees in your own country, but instead gets all emotional, sentimental and all riled-up each time you hear the words ‘Jews’ and/or ‘Israel’. For you it is not about human rights and refugees, but rather always about your lunatic obsessing with Jews and Israel. Go get a life, jerk!

        Reply to Comment
        • Bruce Gould

          In my case there’s an element of truth to what you’re saying: I’m obsessed by the fact that people seem to think that Jews with power would somehow behave differently than other people with power, that the “Jewish State” would somehow have behave differently than any other state – how can the people I share the planet with possibly be this dumb?

          Once I met http://time.com/110920/naim-ateek-palestinian-pope/ , who told me his boyhood memories of being driven out of his homeland. I’m obsessed with telling his story, which Americans don’t seem to know about.

          Reply to Comment