Israel resumes contact with UNHCR for 'relocations'

Netanyahu government calls for 'improvements' to previous accord

03 May, 13:58

    TEL AVIV - The Israeli government has resumed contact with UN Refugee Agency UNHCR for the gradual relocation to Western countries of thousands of African migrants currently in Israel, the majority of whom are Sudanese and Eritrean, said Channel Ten.
    The news was confirmed on Wednesday by Tourism Minister Yariv Levin of the Likud party, who said Israel will now try to see if it can make "improvements" to an agreement on the matter between Israel and UNHCR.
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the agreement a month ago, and then immediately put it on hold due to right-wing political protests.
    In the accord, Israel had agreed to legalise the status of more than 16,000 migrants residing in the country, while UNHCR had ensured it would arrange for the migrants' relocation over a period of five years to Western countries to be defined.
    Levin said the main objection to that agreement was with regard to Israel being asked to legalise the status of thousands of people who had "illegally infiltrated" the country.
    Channel Ten said following Israel's failed talks with Uganda and Rwanda, the government is also trying to see if another African country would be willing to accept African migrants, with the aid of economic incentives.
    Levin said the probability of finding such a country was unlikely, given that the Israeli Supreme Court has conditioned such agreements to a series of specific guarantees in favor of migrants, which Uganda and Rwanda were unwilling to accept.
    He said the proposal would likely meet similar resistance in other African countries.

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