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Israel: African migrants told to leave or face imprisonment

African illegal migrants carry their belongings following their release from the Holot Detention Centre in Israel’s Negev desert, on August 25, 2015. Israel began releasing hundreds of African migrants from the detention centre after a court order, but the asylum-seekers were barred from entering two cities.  AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

The Israeli government has issued a notice for thousands of African migrants who entered the country illegally to leave or face imprisonment.
The migrants will be given up to $3,500 (£2,600) for leaving within the next 90 days (three months).
According to the BBC, they have an option of going to their home country or third world countries.

If they do not leave, the Israeli authorities have threatened that they will start jailing them from April. Details of the plan were disclosed this week in a statement by Israel’s interior minister, Arye Deri, and the public security minister, Gilad Erdan.

The order exempts children, elderly people, and victims of slavery and human trafficking. Many of the migrants – who are mostly from Eritrea and Sudan – say they came to Israel to seek asylum after fleeing persecution and conflict, but the authorities regard them as economic migrants.

Meanwhile, Mr Henry Oryem Okello, the State Minister in charge of International Affairs as rubbished claims that the migrants are being sent to Uganda.

“We have no agreement with the Israeli government to send refugees from other countries that are in Israel to Uganda. We are baffled with the reports,” Mr Oryem told a local news daily.

Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper reported in August last year that Israel’s top court ruled that African asylum seekers can be deported to Rwanda and Uganda.

The media outlet said data from the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority, revealed there are about 38,000 African asylum seekers in Israel including about 27,500 from Eritrea, 7,900 from Sudan and 2,600 from other African countries.

Haaretz also reported, in the first six months of 2017, only about 2,100 of the asylum seekers left Israel.

Rwanda has said it could take as many as 10,000 people, the Guardian reported on Tuesday. Adding, an investigation by the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, an NGO, found people who had already agreed to leave for Rwanda were vulnerable to a number of threats including imprisonment, violence and extortion.

The BBC contributed to this report.

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