Uganda has agreed to take in tens of thousands of African migrants expelled from Israel in exchange for arms , a gag order lifted on Thursday revealed.
A gag order is a legal order by a court or government, restricting information or comment from being made public, or in some cases, passed onto any unauthorized third party. Gag orders may be used, for example, to keep legitimate trade secrets of a company, to protect the integrity of ongoing police or military operations.
According to the arrangement, Uganda will either accept the migrants, or serve as a transit station to their own countries.
Israel’s Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar said that Hagai Hadas, the prime minister’s special envoy, had obtained Uganda government’s consent, which was approved recently by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.
However, Human rights groups in Israel say that the plan is in violation of UN policy.
According to Israeli media, under the agreement in principle, Uganda will take 1,500-2,000 Eritreans currently in Israel in exchange for military, technological and agricultural aid.
“In the first stage, we will focus on raising awareness within the population of infiltrators while helping them with the logistics of their departure, including costs, airfare and dealing with the possessions they accumulated while they were in Israel,” Sa’ar said.
During the second stage, which will begin after the upcoming Jewish holidays, the state will set a deadline by which “certain sectors within the “infiltrator population” will be asked to “willingly” leave the country.
ISRAEL AFRICAN IMMIGRANTS
Over the past eight years, some 60,000 African migrants, mostly from Eritrea and Sudan, have entered Israel via Egypt. Around 2,000 are being held in a prison camp. They have applied for refugee status, but their requests have yet to be processed.
Rising anti-African sentiments exploded into violence last year when a Tel Aviv protest turned ugly. Jewish rioters smashed African-run shops and property, and there was a worrying number of attacks against innocent African.
Last year, it offered cash to the migrants to leave voluntarily.
In June this year, the Israeli government decided to send thousands of African migrants to an undisclosed country in an attempt to stem the influx of migrants. That country now happens to be Uganda.
However, this move drew criticism from rights groups in the middle east country
with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel saying their rights must be protected.
“In order to repatriate or resettle refugees or asylum seekers, there are certain standards that have to be met,” ACRI’s Marc Grey told reporters.
“They have to go voluntarily to a third country,” he stressed.
“And that third country needs to provide assurances they will get refugee status.”
In a bid to stop African migrants from entering Israel, the country has erected a barrier along its border with Egypt. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has credited it for a dramatic fall in the numbers of people crossing from Egypt, with only two “infiltrators” entering this month.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mid this year was quoted as having said, “We have stopped the infiltration phenomenon into Israel. Last month only two infiltrators entered Israel, compared to more than 2,000 a year ago. Now we are focused on the infiltrators leaving.”
Additional Reporting By Haaretz