African migrants facing deportation at a detention centre in Israel’s Negev desert have said that they would rather be imprisoned than sent to a country they know nothing about.”I won’t go there,” Abda Ishmael, a 28-year-old Eritrean, said in fluent Hebrew outside Holot, an open facility housing at least 1 200 migrants and set to be shut down on April 1 as per the government’s expulsion policy.”Guys who were here and went to Rwanda and Uganda – we saw what happened to them.”
Israel is trying to expel thousands of Eritreans and Sudanese who entered illegally over the years, giving them an ultimatum – to leave by April 1 or risk being imprisoned indefinitely. Since the migrants could face danger if returned to their homelands, Israel is offering to relocate them to an unnamed third country, which aid workers claim is Rwanda or Uganda.Those who choose to leave by the end of March are being offered a cash incentive of $3 500. The plan has drawn criticism from the United Nations’ refugee agency as well as some in Israel, including Holocaust survivors who say the country has a special duty to protect migrants.Migrants began entering Israel through what was an Egyptian border in 2007. Since then the border has been strengthened in order to stop illegal crossings.
Nayeemul Islam khan
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