Ouattara: Bring home migrants in Israel

2012-06-19 16:48
(AFP, File picture)

(AFP, File picture)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Jerusalem - Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said on Monday he will work to repatriate Ivorians living illegally in Israel, in talks with Israel's premier and its parliamentary speaker, officials said.

Ouattara held talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and with speaker Reuven Rivlin, with both meetings touching on the issue of illegal immigration from Africa.

"Ivory Coast President Ouattara expressed agreement that Israel should repatriate Ivory Coast nationals who arrived here without permits," Netanyahu's office said.

But after talks with Rivlin, Ouattara raised questions about Israel's estimate of some 2 000 Ivorians living illegally in the Jewish state.
"We are not sure that this number is accurate," a Knesset statement quoted Ouattara as saying, indicating his belief that "a large part" of that number were not Ivorians.

"We shall examine the list and return our citizens to their country and to their homeland in full cooperation with Israel," he said.

In the past week, Israel has been conducting mass raids to round up illegal immigrants, mostly Africans, with the aim of sending them home.

First group

A first planeload of 127 South Sudanese was flown back to the capital Juba before dawn on Monday.

Until recently, the South Sudanese were shielded by an Israeli policy giving them protection as a group from deportation.

But on 7 June, a Jerusalem court overturned that long-standing policy, ruling they were no longer at risk in their homeland and clearing the way for the mass expulsion of what rights groups say is 700 people.

Israeli officials put the number at about 1 500.

Six months earlier, Israel's population and migration authority had reached a similar conclusion about the Ivory Coast, deciding conditions there had improved enough since the end of the civil war in 2007, that it was safe to send Ivorians home.

"We know very well about the migration problem as a state which both absorbs refugees and from which 250 000 refugees fled during the grave political crisis," Ouattara told Rivlin.

"So far we have managed to reduce the number of [our] refugees around the world to around 60 000 and we hope that they will return to Ivory Coast in the coming months," he said.


"To me, it's quite humiliating to see African citizens trying to reach another country at almost any price. It's terrible to see African youth trying to cross the sea and drowning on the way to Europe."

Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who has championed the removal of every last illegal immigrant, says the arrest campaign which began in earnest on 6 June, is "just the beginning" of a massive operation to rid Israel of an estimated 60 000 Africans, the vast majority of them from Sudan and Eritrea.

Some are refugees fleeing persecution in their home nations, but others are economic migrants.

The speaker told him the influx of illegal immigrants was placing "an economic and social burden" on Israel which was creating "unrest".

Tensions over illegal immigrants exploded into violence last month when a protest in south Tel Aviv turned ugly, with demonstrators smashing African-run shops and property, chanting "Blacks out!"

Read more on:    alassane ouattara  |  benjamin netanyahu  |  israel  |  ivory coast  |  west africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.