Uganda considering Israeli request to take in 500 African migrants


(JTA) — Uganda said it was considering a request from Israel to take in 500 African migrants that Israel would deport, the first time an African country confirmed that it was going along with the Israeli government’s controversial deportation plan.

Musa Ecweru, the Ugandan minister in charge of refugees, said the migrants would be thoroughly evaluated before their arrival, the Associated Press reported on Thursday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in January announced plans to jail or deport all of the 38,000 African asylum seekers in the country. The deportations would be undertaken without the typical protections afforded asylum seekers, which can take years to process. The migrants, their advocates, and refugee groups said that hasty, unregulated deportations would place the migrants in danger.

Netanyahu’s plan prompted an outcry from migrant advocates in Israel and a broad swath of the U.S. Jewish organizational community, and last week, Netanyahu announced that he would instead seek the orderly departure of half of the African migrants under U.N. procedures. That, in turn, prompted an outcry from Israeli right-wingers which led Netanyahu to reverse himself once again and revert to his plan of deporting the migrants to African countries.


Announcing the reversal, Netanyahu confirmed for the first time reports that one of the destinations Netanyahu had hoped for was Rwanda, but that country had resisted the Israeli government’s overtures. The other country surfacing in reports as a possible destination was Uganda.