Rwanda is in negotiations with Israel to take in as many as 10,000 African asylum seekers, according to the statement of the foreign affairs minister of Rwanda.
“We have had discussions with Israel on receiving some of the immigrants and asylum seekers from this part of Africa who would be willing to come to Rwanda,” Mushikiwabo told the newspaper.
Speaking to The New Times, Louise Mushikiwabo elaborated that the two countries have yet to finalize an agreement on how many asylum seekers currently in Israel could eventually be resettled in Rwanda.
“If they are comfortable to come here, we would be willing to accommodate them. How it’s done and their livelihoods once they are here are details that have not been concluded yet,” she said.
Mushikiwabo did not confirmed about the date for possible transfer.
The minister’s comments come after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that his government would seek to remove 40,000 asylum seekers from the country “without their consent”.
“This is very important,” Netanyahu said in a statement on Sunday, the same day the Israeli cabinet voted to close a detention centre in the country’s southern Negev desert that currently houses just over 1,000 asylum seekers.
According to the government figures, Israel currently provides shelter to about 40,000 asylum seekers, That includes 27,500 Sudanese and 7,800 Eritrean asylum seekers, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has reported.
It will also pay each asylum seeker $3,500 to leave Israel and buy their flights out of the country, the newspaper reported. The United Nations has raised concerns about potential deals to deport asylum seekers to a third country such as Rwanda, however.
“As party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, Israel has legal obligations to protect refugees and other persons in need of international protection,” Volker Turk, UNHCR’s assistant high commissioner for protection, said in a recent statement.