August 30, 2013 (KAMPALA) - Uganda has been revealed as the African country that will be used as a transit for 50,000 mmigrants from Sudan and Eritrea that Israel plans to deport back to Africa, Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper reported on Thursday.
The newspaper said Uganda will either accept the migrants, or serve as a transit point for them on their way to their countries.
The revelation follows the lifting of a gag order after a request by the Haaretz newspaper.
The UK’s Guardian newspaper said Uganda agreed to the deal in exchange for agricultural technology and arms which its sources said includes self-propelled mortars, field guns, surveillance equipment, modernization of old combat aircraft, and even reconnaissance drones.
Israel’s Interior ministry was quoted as saying Uganda had already consented to the deal.
But a Uganda Foreign Ministry official on Friday denied the existence of such a deal between the two countries.
"We’re not aware of any such deal. There’s no way Uganda would enter such an arrangement", Uganda’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Elly Kamahungye said.
In 2012, Israel passed a law that authorises the jailing for up to three years immigrants who are in the country illegally.
The country is holding some 2,000 migrants. In July this year it repatriated 14 Eritreans giving each $1,500. Another group of migrants is also thought to have been flown to South Sudan in the last one year.
The migrants expected to be deported entered Israel via Egypt during the past five years and have since been considered as illegal infiltrators and a threat to security of the Middle Eastern country.
Human rights groups have criticised the Middle East country saying the plans to forcefully deport migrants contravenes UN policy.
The United Nations Refugee agency(UNHCR) has expressed concern over the fate of the African migrants.
UNHCR’s Director for Israel office, Peter Deck, said the deportation arrangements made between Israel and the third country[Uganda] violates international laws and norms on refugees.
“There are standard procedures for any arrangement of movement of asylum-seekers. It is a concern to UNHCR that both Israel and the country did not consult us”, he said further expressing concerns on the risks the migrants would face in the third country.