By Nilay Kar Onum, Handan Kazanci and Zuhal Demirci
ISTANBUL (AA) - Rwandan minister of state for foreign affairs has denied his country signed a controversial deal with Israel to host African migrants being deported from the Jewish state.
According to some media reports, around 10,000 African refugees in Israel were at risk of being deported by force to Rwanda that would allow the Rwandan government to earn $5,000 for every refugee it takes in.
In an interview with Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of a Turkish-African meeting in Istanbul, Olivier J.P. Nduhungirehe described the recent reports as “fake news”.
“First, we don’t have any deal with Israel,” Nduhungirehe said.
“Second, we will only receive the migrants who are willing to express [their] will to come to Rwanda, not those, who are deported against their will.”
He said his country was willing to host African migrants stranded in Libya.
“Rwanda has expressed its willingness to host African migrants that are stranded in Libya,” he said.
“So, we say that those, who are willing to come to Rwanda, we will receive that.”
Last August, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that Eritrean and Sudanese migrants, who had not formally sought asylum in Israel could be deported to their home country or to a third country.
- Bilateral ties
About the meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Istanbul over the weekend, he said both sides discussed bilateral relations and multilateral cooperation as part of the African Union-Turkey partnership.
He said Rwanda and Turkey maintain a “good relationship”.
“We are cooperating in various areas, including trade, education and the other matters.
“We came here in Istanbul to review it [joint implementation plan]. We have a summit next year in 2019. We hope that we will have addressed some of the challenges we have, to strengthen the partnership we already have,” the minister added.
The Turkey-Africa 2nd Ministerial Review Conference was held in Istanbul on Monday with representatives from 19 African countries, where Anadolu Agency was serving as an official photo provider.
One of the objectives of the conference was to review preparations for the Third Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit, which will take place in Istanbul in 2019.
In his message to Turkish investors, Nduhungirehe said: “Come to Africa, come to Rwanda.
“We are one of the open countries in the world. You can come without prior application of visa. We give visa on arrival to all the citizens of the world without exception."
According to Turkish Foreign Ministry, bilateral trade volume with Rwanda was $30.5 million in 2015.
Turkish Airlines has direct flights to capital Kigali since 2012.
Ankara also gives scholarship to university students from Rwanda.