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Israel to pay Rwanda $5,000 for every African refugee it accepts

Israel currently houses 40,000 asylum seekers, which includes 27,500 Sudanese and 7,800 Eritrean refugees
File photo of Israeli Holot detention centre for refugees (AFP)

Israel will pay Rwanda $5,000 for every African migrant it accepts as the country prepares to deport asylum seekers primarily from Eritrea and Sudan, according to an Israel Channel 10 report.

In addition, Israel said they will give each refugee $3,500 for every refugee who voluntarily leaves. Haaretz reported that Israel will not deport women and children, adding that the operation will begin in the upcoming weeks.

Israel currently houses 40,000 asylum seekers, which includes 27,500 Sudanese and 7,800 Eritrean refugees, according to the report.

Over 1,000 of those refugees are located at the Holot detention centre in the Negev desert, which was approved for closure by Israel’s cabinet on Sunday, according to an Al Jazeera report.

Israel’s cabinet plans to shut the facility by mid-March of next year.

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Civil liberties groups, however, claim that the deportations violate the asylum seekers’ human rights.

"As party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, Israel has legal obligations to protect refugees and other persons in need of international protection," a UNHCR statement said.

Sigal Rozen, who runs the public policy department at the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, told Al Jazeera that the decision to deport is, both domestically and internationally, illegal.

"All this together is created to make them feel unsafe and unwanted," she said. "[If] they will continue leaving quickly, then there will be no need to deport."

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the initiative, saying it was “very important”.

"This removal is enabled thanks to an international agreement I achieved, which allows us to remove the 40,000 remaining infiltrators without their consent,” he said.

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