Israel is set to force illegal African migrants to choose between leaving to a “safe third-party” country in Africa or face imprisonment, the interior ministry said. A statement from the ministry’s population and immigration authority said the measure would apply to migrants currently at the southern Holot detention centre, “who infiltrated Israel and cannot be expelled to their country of origin”.
More than 280,000 people entered the EU illegally last year, according to figures released Tuesday by the EU’s border agency Frontex.Thousands have taken to rickety boats from conflict-torn Libya and Europe’s coast guards are unable to cope.Frustrated by its inability to handle the migration wave, the EU has sought to tackle the problem at its source, mainly in Africa.The head of the International Organization for Migration’s EU office, Eugenio Ambrosi, cautioned against any rush to set up processing centers.
problem at its source, mainly in Africa.The head of the International Organization for Migration’s EU office, Eugenio Ambrosi
"The priority has to be about protecting people and not protecting borders," he said.Ambrosi noted that some EU nations have been unwilling to share the costs and responsibility of housing asylum seekers with partners like Greece, Italy and Malta, which are bearing the brunt of the migration wave. Germany and Sweden are also hosting many refugees from Iraq and Syria. Most of the migrants at Holot hail from Sudan and Eritrea and would face danger were they to return home.
An infiltrator who agrees to this procedure will begin the preparations for leaving, an infiltrator who refuses will face a hearing following which it will be decided whether they will be imprisoned.
Statement issued by the interior ministry
Israel will identify migrants who qualify for the measures, inform them of the proposed destination, and pay for their plane ticket and hotel there. A spokeswoman for the interior ministry refused to name the third-party countries, but media and some charities named them as Rwanda and Uganda. Interior Minister Gilad Erdan said the measure would “encourage infiltrators to leave Israel in a safe and dignified way, and will be an effective tool to upholding our committment to return life to normal in Israel”.