Israel offers to pay African states to absorb refugees
By Haaretz Service
Israel is negotiating with four African countries to host Sudanese and other African refugees who sneaked from Egypt the Army Radio reported on Thursday.
Thousands of Sudanese refugees escaped to Israel from Egypt, they mainly followed by Eritrean nationals.
Israel has offered to pay African states to absorb the thousands of Sudanese refugees from Darfur and other environs who have crossed into Israel recently, Army Radio reported on Thursday.
The idea arose in discussions held by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert concerning the influx African refugees in Israel and the high costs of providing these refugees with housing, health and social services.
The proposal was supported by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, said Army Radio.
Following the decision, the Foreign Ministry has turned to several African countries that have diplomatic ties with Israel: Ethiopia, Uganda, the Ivory Coast and Benin. The amount of monetary compensation for the refugees has not yet been set, as talks are still at a preliminary stage.
At present, none of the African states in question have expressed enthusiasm for the idea, though not all have rejected it all right. Army Radio said, however, that a few of the states have requested the proposal be studied in depth.
The Foreign Ministry sees the proposal as a sensitive political issue, considering that there are now thousands of African refugees in Israel, and also because the state’s offer of monetary compensation for refugees is liable to be viewed negatively in the world.
The state has already agreed to absorb 600 refugees into Israel and government agencies dealing with the refugees are looking for other solutions to the issue.