As Israel began the first of its planned mass deportations of undocumented African migrants, Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara met with Israeli officials to pledge his support for the measure, promising that Ivory Coast would ensure that its citizens are safely returned home.
"We shall examine the list and return our citizens to their country and to their homeland in full cooperation with Israel," Ouattara said following the meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and parliamentary speaker Reuven Rivlin, according to AFP.
Monday, 127 South Sudanese were flown back to the capital, Juba, marking the first wave of removals. South Sudanese were previously granted immunity from deportation, but last month Israel reversed the policy on the grounds that South Sudanese no longer face persecution in their country.
A similar decision was reached regarding Ivorians, who were given immunity amid the country’s civil war, which ended in 2007.
Now, President Ouattara balks at the idea of having his citizens desperately clinging to another country.
"To me, it’s quite humiliating to see African citizens trying to reach another country at almost any price,” he said. “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 Côte d’Ivoire in the coming months."
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(Photo: Eliad Levi/AFP/GettyImages)