UGANDA is “positively considering” a request to take 500 Eritrean or Sudanese migrants rejected by Israel, a senior government official has revealed.
It was the first official confirmation of an agreement to receive African migrants whose planned deportations have caused widespread protests in Israel.
The migrants will be thoroughly evaluated by Ugandan officials before receiving asylum, said Musa Ecweru, the East African country’s minister in charge of refugees.
Uganda's government has previously denied reports of a deal with Israel to accept the deported migrants.
Israel considers most of the 35,000 migrants to be job seekers and says it has no legal obligation to keep them. The Africans say they face danger if they return home.
Jewish critics worldwide had called the government's deportation plans unethical and a stain on Israel's image as a refuge for Jewish migrants.
Several mass protests against it have taken place in recent months.
Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went back on his own deal with the United Nations in which roughly half of the migrants living in Israel would have been resettled in the West and others absorbed in Israel.
Netanyahu cancelled the plan after facing heavy criticism among nationalists within his own ruling coalition.
Nearly all the migrants hail from Sudan and Eritrea.
The Africans started arriving in 2005 and tens of thousands crossed the porous desert border before Israel completed a barrier in 2012 that stopped the influx.
* Although any deal with Uganda is still unsigned, 207 African migrants were released on Sunday from Saharonim Prison in southern Israel, where they have been held after refusing to leave Israel voluntarily.