BEIRUT

Middle East

Uganda denies deal to take African refugees from Israel

  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Jerusalem August 25, 2013. REUTERS/Abir Sultan/Pool

KAMPALA: Uganda has denied it has struck a deal with Israel to take in tens of thousands of African refugees, foreign ministry officials said Saturday.

Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported on Friday that Israel would finance the migrants' flights to Uganda and their resettlement there, with each refugee apparently receiving $1,500 (1,135 euros).

But Ugandan foreign affairs ministry spokesman Elly Kamahungye denied the deal.

"Is not true, it is unfounded, false and misleading that we have such an agreement," Kamahungye told AFP.

"Uganda has a clear policy regarding refugees, on who comes in and who leaves, in line with international law, so it cannot be true in this case that we are receiving such people."

Haaretz had quoted Israeli Interior Minister Gideon Saar as telling a parliamentary committee this week that a senior Israeli official had obtained Kampala's assent to the deal.

Israeli immigration authorities say there are about 55,000 illegal African migrants in the country.

Many came by foot through Egypt and slipping through the formerly porous border into Israel, which is now being sealed by a sophisticated system of walls and electronic fences.

Uganda meanwhile hosts some 200,000 refugees from regional nations, including people fleeing conflict in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as Burundi, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, Somalia and South Sudan.

 
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