The month of August marked a milestone in Israel's efforts to stem the tide of illegal African migrants entering the country. For the first time no infiltrations were recorded from the Egyptian border, compared to 193 from the same month last year, according to a press release issued Sunday by the Population and Immigration Authority.
In addition, 168 Sudanese and Eritrean migrants left Israel voluntarily according to the guidelines stipulated by Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein.
"The figures point to a cessation of infiltration into Israel through the Egyptian border," Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar said. "At the same time, we are progressing day by day to return illegal infiltrators to their countries of origin or to third-party countries. Each month there are fewer illegal infiltrators in Israel. With the advent of another exit avenue -- a third country -- the number of illegal infiltrators who leave voluntarily will increase."
It was initially reported that Uganda would serve as the third-party country to absorb Israel's African migrants, but on Friday a Ugandan Foreign Ministry spokesman denied the report, saying, "We're not aware of any such deal. There's no way Uganda would enter such an arrangement."
Regardless of the identity of the third state, Weinstein said he was convinced that there was no legal impediment to the government following through with the agreed upon guidelines determined by Israeli envoy Hagai Hadas, tasked with secret contacts with an African country to take in economic migrants from Israel.
Weinstein consented to the agreement after confirming that the third state was a party to the International Convention on the Status of Refugees, had an adequate asylum system to protect the relevant members of the population, and upheld the standards of the U.N. Commission for Refugees.