Uganda denies deal with Israel re African immigrants
(JNS.org) Israel has struck a deal with Uganda to accept thousands of illegal African migrants in the upcoming months, Israeli media reported. Uganda, however, denied the deal. On Wednesday, August 28, Israeli Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced a deal with an African country, later revealed to be Uganda, that will temporary accept Israel’s African migrants as part of a process of deportation. As part of the migrants’ deportation, Israel would pay for the cost of their transport and provide a financial package that would take into consideration money and property they accumulated while in Israel. A spokesperson for the Israeli Justice Ministry clarified the reported deal by saying, “at this time, the State of Israel is not forcibly deporting migrants from Sudan and Eritrea. Their return to their countries is purely voluntary.”
According to the Israeli government, more than 55,000 African migrants, roughly 90 percent from Eritrea and Sudan, currently reside in Israel, mainly in south Tel Aviv. Their presence has caused a backlash from local residents, who claim the migrants are behind rising levels of crime. A major protest broke out in 2012 over the migrants’ presence. Israel — which been erecting a 229-kilometer security fence along the Egyptian border to stem the tide of illegal immigration as well as the infiltration of terrorists — has had difficulty finding a home for the migrants. According to international law, Israel cannot deport them back to their country of origin if they face danger there, which is the case in Sudan and Eritrea.
Voice of America (Washington, DC)
Uganda: Israel, Uganda Discuss Deal for African Asylum SeekersBy Hilary Heuler, 3 September 2013
Kampala — Israel says it is likely to send at least some of its Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers to Uganda. In return for accepting the refugees, Uganda would receive aid and weapons. Such a trade would provide Uganda the weapons it seeks, but could create legal problems as well.
Last week, Israel's interior minister said Uganda had agreed to accept thousands of Eritreans and Sudanese, whom Israel considers to be illegal economic migrants. Nearly 55,000 of them live in Israel, where many have sought asylum.
But since Friday, the number of migrants destined for Uganda has been scaled down to a few hundred. Israeli officials said the "deal" with Uganda was nothing more than a verbal understanding, and the Ugandan government has denied such an agreement exists.
But it appeared the announcement was not entirely unfounded. The co-founder of the International Refugee Rights Initiative in Kampala, Dismas Nkunda, said he has heard rumors of such a deal for the past two years. But he said it did not seem to have gone through the usual channels.
"What we heard is that there are certain Uganda government officials who entered those negotiations without necessarily informing the agencies that are responsible for protection or even admission of refugees into the country," said Nkunda.
Israel's relationship with Uganda has been tumultuous. In 1976, Idi Amin famously gave refuge to Palestinians who had hijacked a passenger plane, and dozens of people were killed in the Israeli commando rescue operation that followed.
But Makarere University Security Studies Professor Paul Omach explained in the 1960s the two countries were closely connected, with Israel giving Uganda agricultural training and military aid.
"I know in the 1960s Israel was training the air force. A number of Ugandan paratroopers trained in Israel also. At that time Israel was trying to use Uganda as a southern flank to fight the Arabs during the Arab-Israeli conflict," he said.
Under Uganda's current president, Yoweri Museveni, Israel has provided military assistance once more, although Omach said the details of these deals were never made public. If Uganda did not accept Israel's unwanted migrants, he said, it may well be in exchange for arms.
"Museveni is always building the military. Right now he has just commissioned a tank crew. So this is a continuous thing. We live in a turbulent region, so you need to be prepared," said Omach.
But sending asylum seekers to Uganda would contradict international refugee law, said Nkunda, and could create legal problems once the migrants arrived.
"What happens to them, certainly that is going to be a very big legal problem, because on what basis are they being admitted in Uganda? They have not sought refugee status in Uganda, they have not sought asylum in Uganda. They sought first asylum in the first country they thought of, which was Israel. Actually, you might say that they might end up becoming stateless," said Nkunda.
Nor was it clear where the new arrivals would be put, he added, though they may well end up in one of Uganda's refugee camps.
"We have large camps in Uganda; camps for Congolese, camps for Somalis even. So it is possible that they might end up just driving them over into the camp to look after themselves," said Nkunda.
Omach said this could be just another example of a richer nation paying a poorer one to solve its problems.
"Israel looks at these immigrants, mostly Africans really, as unwanted in its country. So if somebody can take it and you can just sign the checks, and you get somebody who is itching for money, that is definitely what they will do," said the professor.
But unless a formal agreement is signed, Omach and Nkunda agree the public may never know the details of what really happened between Israel and Uganda.
Uganda: Youth Being Recruited Into Rebellion - ArmyBy Anne Mugisa, 2 September 2013
Uganda together with the UN force in Congo and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) are monitoring clandestine recruitment of Ugandan youth into rebel activity in Congo, the army has said.
The youth, according to information from security sources, are being tricked with promises of jobs on farms in the Democratic Republic of Congo and once there forcefully conscripted into the rebel ranks. The rebel groups to which these youth are being taken, according to the sources are mostly, ADF, NALU, PRA, LRA and UPC which are based in the eastern DRC.
The Arua Resident District Commissioner, Ibrahim Abiriga said that relatives of the some of the youth have complained about the disappearance of their children.
Army spokesman, Paddy Ankunda said over the weekend reports indicate that the recruitments are not only in West Nile, but some are carried out in Kampala.
"Some people have been lying to the youth that there are jobs in the DRC including in copper mines and farms. People need to be vigilant and careful about who approaches them with prepositions of jobs and other promises. We are also appealing to the youth to know that these are wrong people out to use them not to make their lives better," Ankunda said.
Several MPs from the West Nile area confirmed hearing about such reports but said they had not seen the youth who had been recruited or their families.
Bernard Atiku (Ayivu County), Christine Acanyo Cwiny Ai (Nebbi Woman), Alezo Tom Aza (West Moyo) and Fungaroo Kap Hassan (Moyo County) said that they have been hearing that the recruitments are on the areas near the border shared by Uganda, Congo and Sudan. They denied hearing such reports in their constituencies.
Fungaroo said that this could be a spill over problem from the instability in the DRC. He said that some of the problem could be the porous borders where there are Congolese citizens in Uganda whom those recruiting come after. He said the people of West Nile have made it clear that they do not want war and the rebel groups that were there handed in their arms to government and abandoned rebellion.
He said that all the people want is development and that so far there are positive things that are taking place which include the tarmacking of the road and the construction of Arua Airport and Karuma power dam. But, he added, that the projects should not be delayed because they will help in reducing unemployment which some people could take advantage to divert the youth.
"We talked about these problems with the leaders and the elders. We are trying to sensitise people especially elders to use tribal links to sensitise their tribe mates across borders to resist anybody who wants to use them to destabilise the area," Fungaroo said.