Come Clean On Israel Immigrants [editorial]

Reports that first emerged two years ago, to the effect that Israel had struck a deal with Uganda to absorb tens of thousands of the Middle East power’s unwanted African immigrants have resurfaced.

The latest reports claim that an estimated 2,000 Eritreans and Sudanese are set to arrive in Uganda on top of an unspecified number that arrived earlier. The Ugandan authorities have consistently denied these reports ever since they first emerged in 2013, following news stories in the Israeli media that Kampala was willing to accommodate these people in return for military and other support.

However, the Israeli media, particularly a newspaper known as Haaretz, quoted senior government officials there and yet their Ugandan counterparts have not bothered to protest these widespread reports as far as we know.

This has lent credence to the feeling at home that perhaps there is no smoke without fire. Now, a minister has had the audacity to claim that the Israelis are deporting their asylum seekers to Uganda without Kampala’s approval!

Acting Foreign Affairs minister Henry Okello Oryem was quoted as saying that there is no formal arrangement between Israel and Uganda and yet the said immigrants have been cleared to come!

How is that possible? If they are not Ugandan citizens, how do they gain access to the country without our immigration agency or authorities concerned with refugees granting them permission?

The way this issue has been handled raises serious concerns. If the report is completely untrue, let the government make it categorically clear. If there’s any truth in it, the government must explain the rationale. Ugandans deserve to know the who, what, where, when and how of such a controversial deal.

What is the deal? How was it struck? Why? Who is involved? How many people? When do they arrive? Where do they settle? What do they do? What does international law say?

If the relevant government agencies can’t provide answers, parliament must step in and compel them to explain. The fact it is shrouded in secrecy and mystery means there is more than meets the eye. Ugandans deserve to know the truth.

Source : The Observer

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