The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, Monday announced a five-year agreement with the Israeli government to resettle some 16,000 out of 34,200 Eritreans and Sudanese in other countries.
- As a result of the deal, Israel suspends controversial plan to deport the East African immigrants to Africa if they continue to refuse voluntary departure to Uganda, or Rwanda in line with a deal reached with the two countries.
“Under the agreement, UNHCR (…) will work to facilitate the departure to third countries to be determined of some 16,000 Eritreans and Sudanese under various programmes, including sponsorship, resettlement, family reunion and labour migration schemes, while others will be receiving a suitable legal status in Israel,” said a statement released by the refugee agency.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who signed the deal described it as “a good agreement”.
“It enables us to solve this problem in a way that serves, protects the interests of the state of Israel and gives a solution to the residents of southern Tel Aviv and other neighbourhoods, and also for the people who came into Israel,” he said.
The agreement provides that Eritrean and Sudanese refugees would be encouraged to move out of the neighbourhoods in South Tel Aviv where they have mostly congregated.
By the end of 2017, there were 26,600 Eritreans and 7,600 Sudanese in Israel, according to the Israeli immigration authority. Also, 4500 Eritreans and Sudanese have been relocated in African countries since December 2013.
The deal which will be implemented during five years will be trained in solar energy, agriculture and irrigation for employment abroad or in Israel.
According to the Israeli prime minister, the refugees would be resettled in Western nations, including Germany, Italy and Canada.
European governments are seeking to control the flow of illegal migrants from Africa and the Middle East.
The UNHCR says a small number of countries take part in UNHCR’s resettlement programme.
“In recent years the United States has been the world’s top resettlement country, with Canada, Australia and the Nordic countries also providing a sizeable number of places annually,” says the refugee agency on its website.