Israel Cancels Plan To Deport Africans

Israel says it has reached a deal with the UN refugee agency to cancel the plan to deport thousands of African refugees.

Speaking at a news conference with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli interior minister Arye Dery said that following tough negotiations with the UNHCR, Israel had agreed to resettle one asylum seeker in a Western country for every asylum seeker awarded temporary residency status in Israel.

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Canada, Germany, Italy are among countries to take in asylum seekers.

Israel will deport 16,000 refugees to West, while grant 16,000 temporary residency status.

The initial deportation was called off “because of legal considerations and diplomatic difficulties concerning third-party countries”.

Under the new plan, migrants who will be absorbed by Western countries will be allowed to work in Israel until they leave, while those who stay will be granted legal status, a visa and eventual residency status.

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An attempt will be made to have a more balanced geographic distribution of the populations who will remain in Israel, while providing vocational advising and professional training.

Netanyahu had been under pressure from conservative groups to expel the African migrants who are predominantly Christians and Muslims, because of fears they could undermine the Jewish character of the country of six million.

But many human right groups had protested the plan because they believed the migrants, mostly from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan would have been killed if they returned to Africa.

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