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Israel confirms sending migrants to third country

JTA

March 5, 2014 | 10:10 am

African migrants arrive at Holot, Israel's southern Negev desert detention center, on Feb. 17. Photo by Amir Cohen/Reuters

African migrants arrive at Holot, Israel's southern Negev desert detention center, on Feb. 17. Photo by Amir Cohen/Reuters

Following reports that Israel was sending African migrants to Uganda, Israeli Interior Minister Gideon Saar confirmed that Israel is sending migrants to a third-party country.

“The departure for third countries, on the basis of agreements we have reached, is of limited scope, in the order of dozens,” Saar said Tuesday at a press conference, according to Haaretz, which reported two weeks ago that migrants were going to Uganda. “It’s a relative minority of the infiltrators who are leaving, but in this I’m not counting infiltrators who leave of their own free will to other, additional countries.”

Saar did not say which country had agreed to absorb the migrants, nor would he provide details on the arrangement to voluntarily deport migrants from Israel.

Approximately 55,000 to 60,000 migrants live in Israel, most of them from Eritrea and Sudan. More than 1,700 left Israel in February.

The migrants are seeking refugee status in Israel and say they have come fleeing persecution and oppressive dictatorships in their home countries. Israeli government officials say the migrants have come seeking economic opportunity, and the government has granted refugee status to only a small handful.

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