The Israeli government has pledged to pay thousands of dollars to the country’s citizens that will help it find and expel African asylum seekers from the country.
The offer from Israel’s immigration authority comes as a government initiative to deport African refugee and asylum seekers to Rwanda and Uganda is slated to begin.
According to the government, Africans who do not opt for what it calls “voluntary deportation” will be incarcerated.
The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR has however condemned the move and appealed to the Israeli government to halt the deportations.
“Let’s see who is in need of protection, what can the international community do. But not necessarily go for a forced relocation policy where you say: ‘either you go to this third country, otherwise you face detention for an indefinite period of time,” UNHCR’s Walpurga Englebrecht said.
The UNHCR offered to work with Israel’s government in finding a solution for the nearly 40,000 Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers currently living in the Middle Eastern country.
Fewer than a dozen Africans have been granted asylum or refugee status since an influx of arrivals started nearly a decade ago.
Israel’s government maintains Sudanese and Eritrean nationals in Israel are mostly job-seekers.
Those seeking asylum however say they face imprisonment or death if they return home.