Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE INTERVIEW

‘Mexico will not finance US wall,’ foreign minister says

Read more

ACROSS AFRICA

African nations need to prepare for potential return of thousands of jihadists

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

DR Congo former child soldiers awarded $10 mn in damages in landmark ruling

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Website roots out "Rotten Apples"

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Putin's press conference, Alabama election, One Planet Summit, Brexit Phase II, Disney & Fox

Read more

#TECH 24

WorldRemit: Helping migrant workers send money back home

Read more

FOCUS

The challenges awaiting the new leader of South Africa's ANC

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Bangladeshi PM calls violence in Myanmar 'unacceptable'

Read more

DOWN TO EARTH

Was 2017 the worst year for the environment?

Read more

Israel to shut migrant centre and deport Africans

© AFP/File | A file picture shows African migrants gathering before their release from the Holot detention centre in Israel's Negev desert, on August 25, 2015

JERUSALEM (AFP) - 

Israel's cabinet voted on Sunday to close a migrant detention centre, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced an agreement to deport 40,000 Africans who entered the country illegally.

Ministers unanimously approved plans to shutter the Holot centre in southern Israel and gave migrants a three-month deadline to leave the country or face deportation, said the interior and public security ministries.

"The infiltrators will have the option to be imprisoned or leave the country," the public security ministry said in a statement.

Israeli official figures from June 30 show a total of 38,043 African migrants in the country.

They include 27,494 Eritreans and 7,869 Sudanese, and their presence in south Tel Aviv has raised discontent among Israelis there and elsewhere.

Speaking ahead of Sunday's vote, Netanyahu noted that after building a fence on the Egyptian border and deporting some 20,000 African migrants through various deals, Israel has reached the third stage of its efforts -- "accelerated removal".

"This removal is taking place thanks to an international agreement I reached that enables us to remove the 40,000 infiltrators remaining, remove them without their consent," he told ministers.

"This will enable us to close down Holot and allocate some of the large funds going there to inspectors and removing more people," said Netanyahu.

Holot, an open facility in the desert that can host 1,200 migrants who are allowed to leave to work during the day, would be closed three months from December 16, according to the decision.

A public security ministry spokesman said an extension to that deadline would be set if necessary.

Ahead of the vote, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Holot had become "a hotel for infiltrators at the tax-payers' expense that does not encourage their exit" and costs 240 million shekels ($68 million, 58 million euros) a year.

In a Twitter statement, Erdan however stressed the closure of Holot was conditioned on "us seeing that the policy of removing infiltrators to a third country was indeed taking place."

Neither Erdan nor Netanyahu gave details about the deal and the third country.

Israel tacitly recognises the Sudanese and Eritreans cannot be returned to their dangerous homelands, so it has signed deals with Rwanda and Uganda, which agree to accept departing migrants on condition they consent to the arrangement, according to activists.

© 2017 AFP