Following months of denials, State Minister for Disaster Preparedness Hon. Ecweru Musa Francis Minister has said that government is “positively considering” a proposal from Israel to accept hundreds of Africans the country wishes to deport.
He said Israel had requested that Uganda accept about 500 Eritrean and Sudanese migrants.The minster disclosed this on Friday at media centre in Kampala.
“The government (is)… positively considering the request,” he said in a statement.
The Minister told journalists that ; Upon arrival, the migrants will be further checks to ensure they qualified as refugees, he said.They would then be allowed to choose to live in refugee settlements or in urban areas.
Meanwhile, Hon. Ecweru disclosed that Rwandese refugees that have lived in Uganda for over 50 years to be naturalized into Uganda as citizens. He says that process for this is underway.
Uganda has been hailed worldwide for its open-door refugee policy and is currently hosting more than 1.4 million refugees from its neighbours and beyond.
Ecweru denied any suggestion of a financial motive for taking in the migrants.
Uganda’s motivation is “purely humanitarian” and “all refugees world over, are voluntarily repatriated” in “strict observance” of international law, Ecweru said.
In November last year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to deport some 40,000 African migrants who had entered the country illegally.
Rights groups, meanwhile, reported that Israel had offered the migrants $3,500 to relocate to Uganda or face indefinite imprisonment with eventual forced expulsion.
Netanyahu last week agreed to cancel the controversial plan and grant 16,000 migrant’s temporary residency with an equivalent number resettled in Western nations. But he reversed his position just hours later.
Human rights groups have long condemned Israel for its immigration policy and treatment of Africans seeking asylum.
Israeli officials say that no-one they classify as a refugee or asylum seeker will be deported, although the process of granting asylum has been criticised as extremely slow and biased against claims. Only a handful of asylum claims have been approved in recent years.
Under a previous plan launched in 2013, more than 4,000 African migrants left Israel for Uganda and neighbouring Rwanda, according to campaign groups.