Starving in the land of plenty: Cape Town’s water woes
February 4, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Prince Kurupati*
The Cape Times of 16 April 1990 carried a story written by Barry Streek titled, “City (Cape Town) will run out of water in 17 years.” According to Barry’s timeframe, this meant Cape Town would run out of water in 2007. Things did not go that way unfortunately for Barry but ‘fortunately’ for the people of Cape Town. Though his timeframe failed him, Barry was indeed right when it came to the main message he was trying to bring out and that is, Cape Town was to have water problems in the near future.
The day of reckoning predicted by Barry 27 years ago is around the corner. Cape Town is fast running out of water and official reports from both local and national government state that in the following two months, Cape Town’s water taps will run dry. That will be ‘Day Zero’.
As the old saying goes, “Water is life” the shortage of water definitely worries not only Cape Town residents but everyone in the region because it puts the lives of many people in danger. As such, a collective effort is needed in seeking solutions for this water challenge. However, before we go into that, how did it all start?
How did it all start?
According to experts, there are two reasons that brought Cape Town here. These are the changing climatic conditions and the ever-growing population. Cape Town like Australia is traditionally a dry area; as such, it is most affected by extreme weather patterns. The changing climatic conditions in recent years contribute largely to Cape Town water shortages because as the rainfall amount each year decreased, so did the water stored in rivers and dams.
Additionally, the ever-growing population exacerbated by the high numbers of foreign immigrants’ means there is more demand for limited water supplies.
However, despite all the negatives, climate change, ever growing population and depleting reservoirs, I think Cape Town is at best a resemblance of the biblical saying, “a starving belly in the land of plenty.” There is one reason I say so and that has to do with technology.
They say it’s very expensive and difficult to process seawater, that desalinisation is more strenuous and expensive than recycling. This may be true, no doubt, but when faced with a problem with a magnitude as big as Cape Town is facing, then it’s past the time for complaining about how expensive it is more so for a country with an economy that is ranked as one of the biggest on the continent.
A more focused and concerted approach to cultivating seawater into safe drinking water is the only way to go and can be done with much ease if the requisite resources are channelled towards one common goal. Below are some methods of desalinisation the government of South Africa and Cape Town residents can look at that can work for the city to eliminate this challenge.
For all other purposes except cooking and drinking, vacuum distillation can ease Cape Town’s water woes. Vacuum distillation simply entails the boiling of seawater. By boiling seawater, the impurities settle at the bottom. This then means you can use the boiled water in the toilet and for other cleaning tasks without the worry of destroying steel pipes.
Another easy homemade desalinisation method is reverse osmosis. All you have to do is purchase a large piece of cloth if you do not already own one. With that piece of cloth, you have to ‘sieve’ seawater separating the impurities from the clean water. Water from reverse osmosis though not totally recommended for consumption can be used for other house chores.
Besides these, communities and start-ups can utilise any of the following to ease the water challenge, membrane distillation, electrodialysis reversal, solar evaporation, freeze-thaw, vapour compression distillation, multi-effect distillation, and multi-stage flash distillation.
They say in challenges and problems lie opportunities, the Cape Town water problem presents several opportunities for start-ups looking to make a name for themselves.
Unprecedented worldwide support for the Global Partnership for Education and addressing the global learning crisis
February 3, 2018 | 0 Comments
|Significant new financial commitments from donors and developing countries will enable new and improved support for the education of millions of children|
DAKAR, Senegal, February 3, 2018/ — Ten current and three former heads of state and more than 60 ministers gathered at the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Financing Conference (www.GlobalPartnership.org), making this the highest-level education financing event of its kind.
The conference, co-hosted by President Macky Sall of the Republic of Senegal and President Emmanuel Macron of the French Republic, marks the first time an education financing conference has been hosted by a G7 leader and the president of a developing country.
More than 1200 participants attended including leaders from UNESCO, UNICEF, the World Bank, civil society, philanthropic foundations and the private sector. Rihanna, GPE’s Global Ambassador supported by Global Citizen, also participated.
The size and nature of the attendance at the conference was a visible demonstration of the strengthened global political will to ensure every child is in school and learning. This heightened momentum will enable the Global Partnership for Education to reach the goal of providing US$2 billion a year by 2020 for education planning and delivery to support children’s learning in developing countries.
Donor countries pledged US$2.3 billion in financing to GPE. This is a substantial increase in funding compared to the US$1.3 billion contributed over the past three years. In addition, several donor countries have indicated their intention to pledge further funds over the course of the financing period.
The biggest source of education financing comes from developing countries themselves. More than 50 developing countries announced they would increase public expenditures for education for the period 2018 to 2020 to a total of US$110 billion, compared to US$80 billion between 2015 and 2017.
GPE encourages developing countries to increase their share of education spending to 20% of their overall budget. Of those governments committing today, over two-thirds will have reached that goal by 2020.
“I am energized by the generosity and determination we have seen here today to ensure every child and young person has access to a quality education. After today’s commitments, we are seeing a clear trend to seriously address the global learning crisis” said Julia Gillard, Board Chair of the Global Partnership for Education and former Prime Minister of Australia. “The success of the conference marks a turning point for global political support for education financing and brings a new breadth and depth to our partnership.”
At the conference, the United Arab Emirates joined GPE, becoming the first Arab donor and pledging US$100 million. Senegal, in addition to pledging to increase its own expenditure on education, became GPE’s first African donor. The Netherlands and Spain renewed their involvement, and China attended for the first time.
“The unprecedented support today means that the Global Partnership for Education can continue to focus on the most excluded and vulnerable children and work to extend assistance to up to 89 countries, which are home to 870 million children and 78 percent of the world’s out-of-school children,” said Alice Albright, Chief Executive Officer, Global Partnership for Education.
The Global Partnership for Education’s funding model is a catalyst for education investment, working hand in hand with governments of low-income and lower middle-income countries to strengthen their education systems. The Global Partnership for Education supports governments to develop robust national education plans so that funds can then be channeled into their priority areas with confidence that they will contribute to improved quality of education for all children.
The conference was sponsored by: Ecobank, the Pan African Bank; Fondation Sonatel; and Altissia, and supported by Girls Not Brides; Global Campaign for Education; Global Citizen; Malala Fund; ONE; Plan International; RESULTS; and Women Deliver.
ARC and UN Partner to Increase Insurance Coverage in Africa
February 2, 2018 | 0 Comments
ADDIS ABABA – The African Risk Capacity (ARC), an agency of the African Union, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) have announced a new partnership which will see the two organisations work together to increase insurance coverage against climate risks for African states.
The multilateral deal was announced at the African Union’s Annual Summit in Addis Ababa, and commits ARC and ECA to build the capacity of their 33 common Member States by embedding risk management investments into government planning through policy development. ARC and ECA also will share expertise and commit financial resources to joint analytical work in areas of economic and climate risk research in order to promote risk transfer instruments.
The UN estimates that Africa will see the adaptation costs of climate change rise to $50 billion per year by 2050.
“This partnership marks a bold new phase of heightened collaboration on combatting the effects of climate change in Africa,” said Mohamed Beavogui, Director-General of ARC Agency. “The future of disaster risk management is an increasingly urgent economic issue, and ECA’s unique expertise will complement ARC’s work serving its Member States and building preparedness and resilience on the continent.”
In the four years that ARC has offered insurance coverage to its Member States, it has paid out more than USD $34 million to Member States affected by drought events. These resources have assisted over two million people affected by climate disaster.
“Climate change is one of the biggest threats to Africa’s economic and social development,” said ECA Executive Secretary Vera Songwe. “We believe that efforts like our partnership with ARC will help move the needle, so that African countries can be well-guarded against these threats, and they can thrive.”
ECA is a UN regional commission established by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN) in 1958. ECA’s mandate is to promote the economic and social development of its member States, foster intra-regional integration, and promote international cooperation for Africa’s development. Made up of 54 Member States, and playing a dual role as a regional arm of the UN and as a key component of the African institutional landscape, ECA is well positioned to make unique contributions to address the Continent’s development challenges.
ECA’s strength derives from its role as the only UN agency mandated to operate at the regional and sub-regional levels to harness resources and bring them to bear on Africa’s priorities. To enhance its impact, ECA places a special focus on collecting up to date and original regional statistics in order to ground its policy research and advocacy on clear objective evidence; promoting policy consensus; providing meaningful capacity development; and providing advisory services in key thematic fields.
ARC consists of ARC Agency and ARC Insurance Company Limited (ARC Ltd). ARC Agency was established in 2012 as a Specialised Agency of the African Union to help Member States improve their capacities to better plan, prepare and respond to weather-related disasters. ARC Ltd is a mutual insurance facility providing risk transfer services to Member States through risk pooling and access to reinsurance markets; it is owned by Member States with active insurance policies as well as KfW Development Bank and the UK Department of International Development (DfiD), as capital contributors.
ARC plays an important role in responding to countries’ needs at times of crisis by providing fast access to funding for pre-agreed-upon, rapid response plans developed in conjunction with governments. ARC’s financing complements other forms of local and international support.
In the few years since ARC began, it has proved to be an effective and vital model – paying out USD $34 million to four countries (Senegal, Niger, Mauritania, and Malawi) affected by drought events. Those resources provided assistance for over two million people and approximately one million cattle.
ARC is using its expertise to help tackle some of the greatest threats faced by the continent, including droughts, outbreaks and epidemics, and tropical cyclones.
For more information, please visit: www.africanriskcapacity.org
African Reinsurance Corporation joins Africa Finance Corporation
February 2, 2018 | 0 Comments
LAGOS, Nigeria, 1 February 2018,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- African Reinsurance Corporation (“Africa Re”) announces its membership of Africa Finance Corporation (“AFC”), and becomes the first multi-lateral financial institution to invest in AFC.
Africa Re, owned by 41 African states, approximately 107 insurance/reinsurance companies and non-African strategic investors, is the continent’s premier reinsurance corporation, operating across 41 African countries. Africa Re’s membership of AFC will be officially sealed at a signing ceremony to be held in Lagos, Nigeria, on February 1, 2018.
Africa Re’s membership of AFC advances AFC’s growth strategy for its country membership and greater diversification of its shareholding. In recent months, AFC has grown its country membership in Francophone, East and Southern Africa, with the accession in 2017 of Benin, Kenya and Zambia, respectively. AFC now seeks to consolidate this success by further expanding its shareholder base.
Andrew Alli, President and CEO of AFC commented: “We welcome African Reinsurance Corporation (Africa Re) as a member and shareholder of AFC. As the first multilateral financial institution to become a member of AFC, this is a key milestone for us, as the Corporation seeks to further diversify its shareholding. We are, therefore, pleased to welcome Africa’s premier reinsurance corporation into membership of AFC and look forward to collaborating with Africa Re to provide innovative solutions to the development and financing of infrastructure assets in Africa.”
Corneille Karekezi, Group Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Africa Re, commented: “As a Corporation with both private and public shareholders, we see many synergies with AFC in the pursuit of African continent development agenda as well as business growth. Indeed, we have long admired AFC, and the transformative impact it has made across many of the geographies in which we operate, whilst delivering competitive returns. We are therefore delighted to become a part of one of Africa’s best success stories.”
Legal questions raised about Nigeria’s extradition of Cameroonian separatists
February 2, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Daniel Finnan*
The Nigerian authorities extradited 47 Cameroonian Anglophone separatists this week to face charges in Yaoundé where the government has described them as “terrorists”. Concerns have been raised by lawyers about the legality of such an extradition given the lack of any specific treaty between the two countries and outstanding requests made by the separatists for political asylum.
“I’ve not really found any particular extradition treaty between Nigeria and Cameroon,” Abiola Olagunju, Secretary General, Nigerian Bar Association, told RFI. “The nearest one that we have is the charter for the Lake Chad basin that was signed by the president in 2017.”
Ten of the separatists, including Ayuk Tabe, leader of the self-proclaimed Federal Republic of Ambazonia, were arrested by Nigerian security forces at a hotel in Abuja at the start of January.
Olagunju said specific extradition treaties exist with other countries within the Ecowas regional bloc such as Benin, Togo and Ghana, but not with Cameroon. The Nigerian lawyer spoke in general about the legal relationship between the two countries and not specifically about the case of the separatists.
“The first thing we must note is that the crimes or alleged offence must be extraditable, but not every crime or offence is extraditable in Nigeria,” said Olagunju, by telephone. “Political offences are not extraditable […] like treason, sedition and offences against the government of that state,” he added.
Ayuk Tabe is leading a campaign for the creation of a separate English-speaking entity apart from the Francophone administration in Yaoundé. Tensions in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions have grown over the past year.
The crisis began with protests over perceived marginalisation by the Cameroonian authorities. The government responded with a crackdown including curfews, raids and restrictions on travel. More recently another separatist entity called the Ambazonia Governing Council has launched attacks against Cameroonian security forces.
The Ambazonia Governing Council has been clear in its use of violence, carrying out “defensive actions” and “exercising its right to defend itself”, according to its leader Cho Ayaba. On the other hand, Ayuk Tabe has previously told RFI that he eschews violent action and has only ever called for peaceful protests.
In addition to questions over the extradition arrangement between Nigeria and Cameroon, some have highlighted that the separatists made a request for political asylum in Nigeria and registered with the UN refugee agency.
“The country director of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees did write to the government explaining the legal status of the refugees under international law,” Femi Falana, a Nigerian human rights lawyer who acted for the separatists, told RFI. “But in defiance of the rule of law the Nigerian government has thrown them out.”
Nigeria is a state party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, which cover the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. Depending on the circumstances of the separatists’ extradition, the Nigerian government may have violated the terms of these agreements.
“What the Nigerian government has done is indefensible,” said lawyer Falana. “The fear is that they are going to be put on trial and probably tried for treason which attracts the death penalty in Cameroon.”
The UN refugee agency in Nigeria and at its headquarters in Geneva were unavailable for a comment about this case despite several requests by RFI.
The Cameroonian authorities hailed the extradition of Ayuk Tabe and his separatist supporters following their arrival in the capital. The government said it underlined the close relationship between the two countries, emphasising that the extradition was perfectly legal.
“Whatever has taken place is within the framework of our laws,” Issa Tchiroma Bakary, the government spokesperson and minister of communications, told RFI. “We are a law abiding nation as well as Nigeria, our brotherly neighbour country.”
“Rest assured that no violation of the law, in one way or another, has ever taken place and will never take place,” Minister Bakary added, refusing to comment specifically on the extradition process.
Greenpeace Africa’s Executive Director Wins a Prestigious Human Rights Award
January 31, 2018 | 0 Comments
|Njeri has mentored many and her recent advances in the environmental protection crowns her lifelong commitment to human rights promotion and protection|
|NAIROBI, Kenya, January 30, 2018/ — Greenpeace Africa’s (www.Greenpeace.org/africa) Executive Director, Njeri Kabeberi, has won the 2017 Munir Mazrui ‘Lifetime Achievement Human Rights Defenders Award’ in a ceremony organised by the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD-K) at the Royal Netherlands embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. This is one of three categories of Human Rights Defenders (HRD) Awards launched in 2016 to recognise and honour the work of human rights defenders in Kenya.
NCHRD-K is a national organization that promotes the safety and security of human rights defenders in Kenya through advocacy, capacity building and protection. It works in partnership with a Working Group on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, chaired by the Royal Netherlands Embassy.
Announcing the award, Kamau Ngugi, Executive Director of the HRDs coalition in Kenya said:
“Njeri is a selfless Woman Human Rights Defender who has broken chains of patriarchy to lead successful campaigns for justice, good governance and human rights in Kenya and beyond. Njeri has mentored many and her recent advances in the environmental protection crowns her lifelong commitment to human rights promotion and protection that deserves recognition and celebration.”
Upon receiving the award, Njeri Kabeberi said she was humbled and honoured.
“Despite having received a number of International Awards this is the first time I have been recognised in my own country – and since it is said that a ‘prophet is never recognised in their own home’, this then becomes the biggest victory and the sweetest award to date.”
“Human rights defenders’ work is lonely and hardly appreciated but I know that focus, persistence and resilience always cause the desired impact. We earn our freedom when we learn to face fear head on; that is what others call courage” continued Ms. Kabeberi.
Njeri’s activism career spans over three decades; as a young girl in 1982, she quietly began supporting mothers and wives of political prisoners but her human rights work was only thrown into limelight a decade later when she was invited to the late Prof. Wangari Maathai’s house to join the organization of the campaign to release Kenyan political prisoners.
With this long history in human rights activism, Njeri is now leading Greenpeace Africa into a new wave of environmental justice for Africans by Africans. Human rights is inextricably linked to climate change.
“If we won the human rights and governance battle, but lost our planet, we would have lost everything.”
“My current vision is to build an Environmental Movement in Africa so powerful that African citizens begin to take responsibility for their future. This can be achieved by restoring the continent through green pathways and seeking global environmental justice to mitigate climate change impacts” concluded Kabeberi.
Africa Business and Investment Forum set for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
Washington, DC – January 29, 2018: A high level public- private sector dialogue on ways of supporting and promoting private-sector led growth in Africa will take place on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The African Business and Investment Forum will serve as a platform for African and U.S. private sector executives to share insights with African heads of state, ministers, senior USG officials, representatives of multilateral institutions and other stakeholders.
The one-day Forum will feature roundtable discussions on issues related to trade and diversification, energy, agribusiness, and health. This will ensure that private sector voices and views are heard by leaders and key stakeholders, and that the day-to-day challenges faced by private sector operators in Africa are addressed.
Among the more than 150 expected participants are Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia; President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique; President Paul Kagame of Rwanda; President Alpha Condé of Guinea; President Macky Sall of Senegal; President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda; President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger; President João Lourenço of Angola; and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya; CEOs and senior executives of key U.S and African companies, both multinationals and SMEs will also attend.
In addition to providing a platform for a high-level public-private sector dialogue, the objectives of the Forum are to increase opportunities for business partnerships, secure commitments as well as track the adoption of business-friendly policies, and showcase countries and policies that are contributing to an enabling environment for enhanced African regional and global trade and investment, including with the United States.
The Africa Business and Investment Forum is organized by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). ECA’s Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, and CCA’s President and CEO, Florizelle Liser, will be representing the two organizing institutions at the event.
CCA, as the premier U.S. business association solely focused on promoting U.S.-Africa trade, investment and business engagement, will bring its 23-year expertise of successfully providing insights, connections and access critical to U.S. and African businesses operating on the continent.
ECA provides a unique platform for intermediation between the public and the private sector policies and programs, offering solutions and support to accelerate sustainable private sector development on the continent.
ARSENAL CLOSE IN ON £55M AUBAMEYANG SIGNING
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Chris Wheatley*
Arsenal are on the verge of completing the signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund after the clubs agreed a £55 million (€63m) fee in principle, Goal understands.
Aubameyang, 28, has been subject of negotiations between the Gunners and Dortmund for several weeks, with Arsenal having refused to meet the Bundesliga side’s €70m asking price.
Goal understands the Gabon international has already agreed personal terms with the north Londoners, with an official announcement to arrive in the coming days.
The striker, who scored 31 league goals last season, was left out of two consecutive games for Dortmund after missing a team meeting, with head coach Peter Stoger accusing the frontman of not being focused.
However, Aubameyang started in Dortmund’s draw with Freiburg on Saturdayamid claims from the Bundesliga side that a transfer would be sanctioned if Arsenal reached “certain parameters”.
“We are ready to agree a transfer under certain parameters, but only if these are fully met,” sporting director Michael Zorc told German TV.
“We have a clear position. Arsenal has made several attempts so far. We have refused them all up to now.”
Aubameyang would join up with former Dortmund team-mate Henrikh Mkhitaryan at Arsenal after the Armenian joined in a swap deal which saw Alexis Sanchez head to Manchester United. The duo combined for 62 goals in all competitions two seasons ago.
This season, Aubameyang has scored 21 goals in 24 matches in all competitions. He has found the net 141 times since joining BVB from Saint-Etienne for €13m in July 2013, and he also has 23 goals in 56 caps for Gabon.
The 28-year-old’s on the verge of joining an Arsenal side that sit sixth in the Premier League table, five points off the pace in the race for the top four.
The Gunners were eliminated in their FA Cup third round meeting with Nottingham Forest earlier this month but have advanced to the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City and will face Swedish side Ostersunds in the Europa League last 32.
As previously reported, West Brom defender Jonny Evans is also a target at the Emirates Stadium, although a hamstring injury sustained at the weekend could see a transfer put on hold until the summer.
Evans is open to a move, but Arsenal may face a late battle, with the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City also keen to land the former Manchester United player, depending on his fitness status.
Diafra Sakho: Striker leaves West Ham to join French club Rennes
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
West Ham forward Diafra Sakho has joined French Ligue 1 club Rennes for an undisclosed fee.
The 28-year-old Senegalese, who joined the Hammers from Metz in 2014, scored 24 goals in 71 games for the club.
Sakho’s career at West Ham began well as he equalled a Premier League record by scoring in his first six starts.
However, injuries hampered the rest of his time at the club and he has started only two Premier League matches since the start of the 2016-17 season.
China dismisses ‘absurd’ African Union HQ spying claim
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
China has dismissed reports it bugged the African Union (AU) headquarters as “preposterous”.
Kuang Weilin, the Chinese ambassador to the AU, told reporters in Ethiopia the “absurd” claim in France’s Le Monde was “very difficult to understand”.
He spoke out three days after the newspaper published an article claiming data from the Chinese-built AU building was being copied to Shanghai.
The article said the discovery resulted in all the AU servers being switched.
Le Monde spoke to a number of anonymous sources, who claimed the alleged transfer was taking place late at night [link in French], and was only spotted in January 2017 due to the spike in activity between midnight and 02:00, despite no-one being in the building.
It was suggested the alleged data transfer had been taking place since 2012, when the building, in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, was opened.
Officials also brought in security experts from Algeria to sweep the entire headquarters for potential bugs, the newspaper said, leading to the discovery of microphones in desks.
But Mr Kuang – who hailed the headquarters as a “monument” to his country’s relationship with the continent – said it was entirely untrue.
“I really question its intention,” he told reporters on Monday. “I think it will undermine and send a very negative message to people. I think it is not good for the image of the newspaper itself.
“Certainly, it will create problems for China-Africa relations.”
Can Kagame? The African Union
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
The continental group of 55 countries has long sought to reduce its dependence on the West, with limited success. Will 2018 be different?
This week is Rwandan president Paul Kagame’s first as chairman of the AU’s Assembly, its top decision-making body. He plans to remake the notoriously sclerotic AU in his own image: lean and ruthlessly efficient. But first comes financial self-sufficiency, which means securing big commitments from African peers.
Last year member states funded just 14% of the AU’s budgeted programmes, well below the 75% they committed to in 2015. A 0.2% levy on imports into Africa might more than double revenues, but implementation has been slow; 21 countries have signed up, but only Ghana and Rwanda have enshrined it in law.
Mr Kagame wants tougher sanctions for recalcitrant members. But it will take deft diplomacy to overcome opposition from big economies like South Africa—a skill not all are convinced Mr Kagame possesses.
*Source The Economist
Netanyahu scoffs at notion Rwanda unsafe for deported migrants
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
PM tells meeting of Likud ministers that the UN is already protecting 180,000 refugees in camps in the African country
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ministers on Sunday that Rwanda is a fitting deportation destination for African asylum seekers as the United Nations is already taking care of nearly two hundred thousand refugees in the African state
At the opening of a meeting of Likud party ministers, Netanyahu addressed Israel’s plans to deport tens of thousands of African migrants to a third country.
The prime minister has praised deals to send migrants to third-party countries in Africa, but has refused to publicly divulge where they are. Media reports have focused on Rwanda and Uganda as the destination countries.
“There are 180,000 refugees sitting there under the protection of the UN, so the claims that it is dangerous are a joke,” Netanyahu said of Rwanda.
Last month, the Knesset approved an amendment to the so-called “Infiltrator’s Law” paving the way for the forced deportations of Eritrean and Sudanese migrants and asylum seekers starting in March, and the indefinite imprisonment of those who refuse to leave “voluntarily.”
There are approximately 38,000 African migrants and asylum seekers in Israel, according to the Interior Ministry. About 72 percent are Eritrean and 20% are Sudanese, and the vast majority arrived between 2006 and 2012. Many live in south Tel Aviv, and some residents and activists blame them for rising crime rates and have lobbied the government for their deportation.
The amendment has gained international attention and is fraught with controversy.
On Saturday a number of severed doll heads doused in red paint were left outside the Tel Aviv office of the Population, Immigration, and Border Authority (PIBA) in what appeared to be a protest move against the deportation plan.
Yossi Edelstein, PIBA’s head of enforcement and foreign affairs administration, complained Sunday that protests against the deportations had gotten out of hand and that opponents’ claims were rife with misleading information.
“What started as a protest became incitement and what happened yesterday in our offices in Tel Aviv is a result of that incitement,” Edelstein told Army Radio. “There are columnists who call for attacking [PIBA] workers. What have we come to? We have crossed every red line you can in protest and we crossed into incitement.”
While refusing to identify the specific countries the migrants will be sent to, he insisted that the destinations are safe and that PIBA operates a careful followup process.
“In the last two weeks there has been false information published,” he told the radio station, dismissing supposed claims that Israel is sending asylum seekers to their deaths. “The High Court has examined those claims from every angle and found that the countries are safe.”
Rami Gudovich, a social worker dealing with asylum seekers, said that some 100 people who were deported by Israel to South Sudan have died, and that there have been several accounts of rape as well as mistreatment by local authorities.
“We are gambling with peoples’ lives,” Gudovich said, saying that some of the asylum seekers that Israel deported to South Sudan have been killed in the civil war there. Other were arrested by local authorities or are suffering because they no longer have access to the medicines and treatments available in Israel, he said.
Israeli rights activists and Jewish communities in the US have spoken out against the deportation plan.
Last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Netanyahu met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and agreed to a demand that his country would only accept asylum-seekers Israel is looking to deport if the move was made in accordance with international law.
*The Times of Israel