08/30/2013, 00.00
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Israel to remove migrants by deporting to Uganda

The two countries struck a deal to send Sudanese and Eritrean migrants to Uganda in exchange for economic and military aid. Human rights groups accuse the government of promoting the slave trade.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Israeli government Israel has finalised a deal with Uganda to deport some 50,000 illegal migrants from Sudan and Eritrea to the African nation. In exchange, Israel will provide Uganda agricultural aid, knowhow and help in modernising its military forces.

On Wednesday, Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar announced that a wide-scale deportation campaign would begin in the coming months.

Initially, police and his ministry would encourage "willing deportation," but after a set period of time, stay permits will be revoked and migrants will be forced out of the country.

The Uganda deal was ratified by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, who was "convinced there is no legal obstacle for the government to act according to the outline reached," the Justice Ministry's statement read.

Uganda is one of the few African countries that "is party to the Refugee Treaty and has an asylum system which protects the relevant populations," the statement added.

However, the decision has sparked criticism from Israel's most important human rights organisations.

In a joint statement, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Hotline for Migrant Workers, Physicians for Human Rights, ASSAF, Amnesty International and Kav Laoved criticised the government.

"The Interior Ministry has been talking for years about an agreement with a third-party state to sell Israel's asylum-seekers for weapons and money, and Uganda has been mentioned before. But it was revealed that Uganda is not safe, and that there's no way to ensure the well-being of those deported to it,"

For these associations migrants are likely to end up in conditions of slavery or be repatriated to their countries of origin, despite the request for asylum.

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