Rwanda and Uganda Refuse to Receive African Migrants Deported from Israel


Rwanda and Uganda have both denied they have signed an agreement with Israel to accept African migrants. ‘Our open door policy only applies to those who come voluntarily’

Rwanda and Uganda have both denied they have signed an agreement with Israel to accept African migrants.
Some 2,000 asylum seekers gathered Monday before the Rwandan embassy in Israel to protest government efforts to deport them. (Photo: JACK GUEZ/AFP)


ARwandan government minister has denied his country signed a secret deal with Israel to take in deported African asylum seekers against their will.

On Twitter, Olivier Nduhungirehe, the minister of state in Rwanda’s Foreign Ministry, rebutted the rumors by saying that “Rwanda will never receive any African migrant who is deported against his/her will.

His Ugandan counterpart, Okello Oryem, echoed the same message.

“There is no written agreement or any form of agreement between the government of Uganda and the Israeli government to accept refugees from Israel,” Oryem said.

Any suggestion to the contrary was “fake news … absolute rubbish,” he added.

On Tuesday, Rwanda’s government also rebutted the existence of any deal with Israel to accept African migrants, despite much publicity from the Israeli government and media.

“In reference to the rumors that have been recently spread in the media, the Government of Rwanda wishes to inform that it has never signed any secret deal with Israel regarding the relocation of African migrants.”

“In this regard, Rwanda’s policy vis-à-vis Africans in need of a home, temporary or permanent, within our country’s means, remains ‘open doors,'” it added.

Ambassador Nduhungirehe explained that further by saying, “Our open doors policy only applies to those who come to Rwanda voluntary, without any form of constraint. Any manipulation of women, men, and children in distress is appalling.”

The vast majority of migrants in Israel came from Eritrea and Sudan although there are many from Ethiopia under false Eritrean identity for easy asylum. But Israel treats them all as economic migrants and ‘infiltrators’.

Rights groups have accused Israel of being slow to process African migrants’ asylum requests as a matter of policy and denying legitimate claims to the status.

In recent days, the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority has begun telling Eritrean asylum seekers at the Holot detention center that they must leave to their country Eritrea, a third country such as Rwanda or be imprisoned indefinitely at the Saharonim prison.

The Eritrean President last explained how negotiations with Israel over the handling and repatriation of Eritreans ended in a deadlock. The Eritrean government rejects any forced return of its citizens back to Eritrea or their deportation to a third country.

“No one would, directly or indirectly, will decide on the future of our citizens, on the affairs of those immigrants enticed to leave to Israel. We are hearing rumors that there are some countries—though unverified—which has been listed to accommodate Eritrean immigrants from Israel. Under what legalities, frames of mandatory and conventions would others decide on the future of our citizens,” President Isaias reiterates in a recent interview he held with local media.

In what could be seen as a possible condition before allowing deportation of its citizens to Asmara, the Eritrean president suggests Israel to first agree on some kind of “compensation package” that can redress their suffering, lost opportunities, and healing.

“They are our citizens; we have to advocate for their affairs. When we proclaimed to Israeli bodies that at least, every immigrated citizen have to get a compensation of $50,000 as prerogative measurements, the conversation destined to closure. As those volunteer immigrants, those who are now started to be branded as ‘infiltrators’ by Israel, have the right to be catered or trained in skills, the compensation claim is shrouded on imperative aspects. When they returned home, they have to be helped in adjusting their life apparently,” the President adds.

* Haaretz, JPost and Reuters contributed to this story.