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Israel ‘releases detained African migrants’

Israel has freed 207 African migrants from prison after it missed a deadline to deport them, AFP news agency reports.

Israel has been hit by a wave of protests over the government's policy on migrants.

Israel has been hit by a wave of protests over the government’s policy on migrants. Photo: AFP

The government is still negotiating with a third country, believed to be Uganda, to take in the migrants who come from Eritrea and Sudan.

Uganda said on Friday that it would accept 500 of the migrants.

Israel’s supreme court had given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government until Sunday to finalise a deal it was working on to deport some of the migrants.

Without a deal, the authorities must release those held at Saharonim prison, the court said.

A spokeswoman for the immigration authority told AFP that all detainees had been freed following an operation lasting several hours.

Mr Netanyahu backed away from a deal with the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, to resolve the fate of 37,000 migrants in the country.

Under the deal, some 16,250 African migrants who entered the country illegally, many of them seeking asylum, would have resettled in Western nations, which Mr Netanyahu had said included Germany, Italy and Canada.

For each migrant resettled overseas, Israel would have given “temporary residence” to a migrant in Israel.

Mr Netanyau said that he changed his mind after consulting residents of south Tel Aviv, where many of the migrants live.

In January, Israel said male migrants had to either return to Africa or face indefinite detention.


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