JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel will begin deporting African migrants to third countries without their consent.
The migrants, from Eritrea and Sudan, will be sent to a southern Israeli prison if they refuse, Haaretz reported, citing the Interior Ministry. Israel’s attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, approved the process, under which the migrants will be given 30 days notice before being told to which third country they will be traveling. No timetable was given for the deportations.
Some 42,000 Eritrean and Sudanese citizens are living in Israel, with 2,000 in the Holot detention facility, where residents are required to check in twice a day. Many have made their home in south Tel Aviv.
Israel has granted official refugee status to just four of more than 5,500 official asylum seekers.
Approximately 1,500 African migrants have been sent to Uganda and Rwanda over the past year in voluntary departures. The Israeli government provided them with airplane tickets and grants.
Israel as a signatory to international refugee conventions may not deport asylum seekers to their countries of origin if their lives would be in danger. If the asylum seeker is sent to a third country, Israel must secure an agreement that they will be treated fairly and have basic rights.
Many of the migrants who voluntarily left for Rwanda and Uganda, having no basic rights, left their third countries and again became refugees, Haaretz reported.