Thousands of African migrants and asylum-seekers demonstrated outside the Rwandan Embassy in Israel on Wednesday against government plans to deport them from the country.
The protesters, mostly from Eritrea and Sudan, gathered outside the embassy in the northern city of Herzliya to protest plans to forcibly return them back to their home country or to a third country.
“I have spent over 9 months in the desert to arrive here and I will not go back to Sudan where I will be killed or forced to join a militia,” Kishmar, 33, one of the protesters, told Anadolu Agency.
“I only want to live here in peace and see my family lives safely,” added Kishmer, who has been in Israel since 2011.
The Sudanese refugee called on the Rwandan government not to cooperate with Israeli deportation plan.
This is a racist plan and Rwanda should not take part on it
Last August, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to deport African “infiltrators”, a pledge seen as rallying call to his far-right supporters ahead of 2019 elections.
But his government came under immense international pressure to halt discriminatory and “racist” treatment of African asylum-seekers.
With both Rwanda and Uganda insisting that they will not welcome asylum-seekers deported from Israel, the UN refugee agency UNHCR insists that Israel should now properly review their status and consider them for asylum within Israel.
According to figures from Israel’s Immigration and Absorption Authority, some 55,000 African migrants and asylum-seekers currently reside in the country, roughly 90 percent of whom hail from either Sudan or Eritrea.
Most of them arrived in Israel — via Egypt — during the period from 2006 to 2013 before a security fence was erected along the border between Israel and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
Since 2012, Israel has deported about 20,000 African migrants and asylum-seekers who illegally entered the country.
Out of 13,764 asylum applications submitted as of July, only 10 Eritreans and one Sudanese national were granted official refugee status.