A picture taken on February 4, 2018 shows detained African migrants walking inside the Holot detention centre, located in Israel's southern Negev desert near the Egyptian border. AFP / MENAHEM KAHANA
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At a detention centre in Israel's Negev desert, African migrants facing deportation say they would rather be imprisoned than sent to a country they know nothing about.Israel is working to expel thousands of Eritreans and Sudanese who entered illegally over the years, giving them an ultimatum: Leave by April 1 or risk being imprisoned indefinitely. As the migrants could face danger or imprisonment if returned to their homelands, Israel is offering to relocate them to an unidentified third country, which aid workers say is Rwanda or Uganda.To Shishay Tewelde Medihin, 24, Rwanda and Uganda are "death countries" and Israel is "risking my life". He slammed an aid package Israel is reportedly planning to offer African countries in return for absorbing the migrants.According to Interior Ministry figures, there are currently some 42,000 African migrants in Israel, half of them children, women or men with families, who are not facing the April deportation deadline.Migrants began entering Israel through what was then a porous Egyptian border in 2007 .Calling them "infiltrators," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly called for their expulsion.Rights groups have rallied to the migrants' cause, saying they should be recognized in Israel as refugees and arguing they will face grave dangers if they are deported.
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