Rwanda to Israel - Don't Scapegoat Us For Your Migrants Issues

Eritreans protesting in Tel Aviv (file photo).

Rwanda has once again denied the existence of a controversial deal to receive African migrants from Israel.

Kigali has been blowing hot and cold about the issue, at one time claiming it is "ready to receive any African migrant" from Israel, at another refuting the pact.

Rwanda's comments on Tuesday followed an announcement on Monday by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the more than 38,000 refugees and asylum seekers would no longer be deported to a third country in Africa.

Mr Netanyahu said Israel had reached a deal with the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, to deport the migrants to Western countries after "it became clear that the third country did not meet the [required] conditions," and "did not withstand the pressure."

Rwanda accused Israel of scapegoating it due to the mounting pressure it is facing over the migrants issue at home.

"We can neither 'meet the requirements' nor surrender to 'international pressure' for a deal that never existed. This is simple logic. Every country should deal with its internal issues without looking for scapegoats elsewhere," Rwanda's State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Olivier Nduhungirehe, told The EastAfrican.

Just hours after Mr Netanyahu said Canada, Germany and Italy would be receiving 16,250 refugees while Israel would offer a similar number with temporary residence status, the deal fell through following heavy backlash from right-wing politicians, and many of his traditional supporters.

Mr Netanyahu, facing political pressure due to a series of corruption investigations, announced the cancellation of the agreement.

By the end of 2017, about 26,600 Eritreans and 7,600 Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers were in Israel, according to UNHCR.

Their presence in Tel Aviv has become a key political issue.

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