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Israel cancels expulsions of African migrants

Israel cancels expulsions of African migrants

Israel said Tuesday it has canceled a plan to forcibly deport tens of thousands of African asylum seekers and instead may incarcerate them in a prison specially built for them.

"Amnesty International will keep monitoring Israel's deportations of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers closely".

"At this stage, the possibility of carrying out an unwilling deportation to a third country is not on the agenda", the government wrote in a response to the court.

However, Israel's immigration authorities are still seeking ways to deport migrants voluntarily, it said.

Official figures released by the Interior Ministry show Israel has some 42,000 African migrants, many of whom live in the impoverished neighborhoods of southern Tel Aviv.

The Supreme Court has previously struck down legislation that permits such detention and ordered the facilities shut.




"I'm thrilled. I'm speechless".

Uganda recently backtracked on a deal with Israel to absorb several thousand migrants following days of negotiations in Kampala.

After leaving a UN-backed relocation plan a few weeks ago, Israel shifted efforts towards finalising an arrangement to send the migrants against their will to Uganda. That comes after the country's high court granted a petition filed by human rights groups. The deal stipulated that they would be jailed if they fail to leave the country.

"In reality there is nothing voluntary about them".

The fate of some 37,000 Africans in Israel has posed a moral dilemma for a state founded as a haven for Jews from persecution and a national home.

"We were dismayed to hear that the agreement had been suspended, then canceled, leaving the Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers in limbo, with no clear next step", said the letter sent Monday and initiated by four of the top Jewish lawmakers: Lowey, the top Democratic appropriator; Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Ted Deutch of Florida, the top Democrat on the House Middle East subcommittee; and Sander Levin of MI, the longest-serving Jewish member of Congress.

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