Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki
Eritrean President Isaias AfwerkiReuters

President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea yesterday criticized Israel’s plan to deport tens of thousands of African migrants, saying they "deserve" far more than the $3,500 Israel is offering them to leave.

A law passed last week will enable the government to deport illegal immigrants who have in the past refused to self-deport in exchange for $3,500 in cash. The bill also granted a limited three-month extension for the operation of the Hulot detention center, effectively establishing a deadline for deporting those infiltrators now detained at Hulot.

In an interview posted on a government website, Afwerki said migrants from his country and Sudan paid a “high price” to human traffickers to reach Israel and "deserve" more like $50,000.

“They need fair compensation to start a new life in their home country,” Afwerki said, explaining that all those who wish to return home “have every right to do so,” and that Eritrea offered to register all of its roughly 20,000 migrants but Israeli authorities refused.

There are approximately 38,000 African migrants and asylum seekers in Israel, according to the Interior Ministry. About 72% are Eritrean and 20% are Sudanese.

Israel intends to bring about the comprehensive departure of infiltrators to a third-party state.

Some 15,000 infiltrators self-deported since 2014, though some 40,000 – not including children born to illegal immigrants in Israel – remain in the country.