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Israel cancels plan to deport migrants to Africa

Israel cancels plan to deport migrants to Africa

Israel has cancelled plans to deport migrants to Africa after striking a deal with the United Nations refugee agency.

In the new agreement, more than 16,000 asylum seekers will instead be resettled in Western countries, including Canada, Italy and Germany, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

About 16,000 more will be offered residency in Israel, he said.

Israel’s Supreme Court had blocked deportations meant to begin on Sunday.

The plan to send the migrants to African countries – reported to be Uganda and Rwanda – was condemned by Israeli activists and sparked protests.

The new plan will be implemented over a five-year period.

Netanyahu’s office described the agreement as “unprecedented”.

“These understandings will allow the removal of more migrants from Israel than in the previous plan, and under UN and the international community’s auspices,” a statement said.

For each migrant resettled overseas, Israel will give “temporary residence” to a migrant in Israel, Netanyahu told a news conference.

Most of the 42,000 African migrants in Israel are said to be from Eritrea and war-torn South Sudan.