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Israeli Interior Ministry Rejects Providing Healthcare for African Asylum Seekers

Israeli Interior Ministry Rejects Providing Healthcare for African Asylum Seekers

Thursday, 22 July, 2021 - 09:30
File photo of a demonstration of asylum seekers in Israel against their deportation to Uganda and Rwanda (Getty Images)

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked rejected on Monday a Health Ministry plan that would provide African asylum seekers in Israel with healthcare, warning that it would encourage them to stay in the country.

Shaked accused Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz of imposing his left-wing agenda on the government.

However, Horowitz said Shaked did not have the authority to interfere in the Health Ministry’s decision.

There are currently 28,000 asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan in Israel’s detention centers in the Negev.

Horowitz insisted that the program is the least Israel could do for those vulnerable people.

The former government led by PM Benjamin Netanyahu set a plan to deport them to Rwanda and Uganda while offering them a cash incentive of $3,500.

However, they rejected the offer and said they would rather be imprisoned in Israel than embark on another journey into the unknown.

The plan has drawn criticism from the United Nations' refugee agency as well as the left-wing in Israel, including Holocaust survivors who say the country has a special duty to protect migrants.

The refugees further say Rwanda and Uganda hold no prospects for them.

According to interior ministry figures, some 42,000 African migrants sneaked into Israel through the Egyptian borders, half of them are children and women.

But out of some 15,400 asylum requests filed, 6,600 have been processed and just 11 have received positive answers.

Another 1,000 Sudanese from Darfur have received special status preventing their deportation.

Other men whose requests have been denied could face deportation.

Religious and conservative politicians have portrayed the presence of Muslim and Christian Africans as a threat to Israel's Jewish character.

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