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Ivory Coast Head Wants Illegals Back, But Challenges the Numbers

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) met with Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara in Jerusalem.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) met with Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara in Jerusalem.
Photo Credit: Moshe Milner/GPO/FLASH90

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said he intends to bring home Ivorian citizens who are living illegally in Israel, EJP reports.

Ouattara, who is on a state visit to Israel this week, met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and with Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, and discussed on both occasions illegal immigration from Africa.

Netanyahu’s office released a statement saying, “Ivory Coast President Ouattara expressed agreement that Israel should repatriate Ivory Coast nationals who arrived here without permits.”

But following talks with Rivlin, Ouattara was unsure about Israel’s estimate of the number of his brethren (2,000) living illegally within its borders.

“We are not sure that this number is accurate,” Ouattara reportedly said, as it was becoming clear that he had not expected the number to be this high.

“We shall examine the list and return our citizens to their country and to their homeland in full cooperation with Israel,” he said.

“We know very well about the migration problem as a state which both absorbs refugees and from which 250,000 refugees fled during the grave political crisis,” Ouattara told Rivlin.

A civil war swept Ivory Coast after the presidential election in 2010.

“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 Ivory Coast in the coming months,” he said.

“To me, it’s quite humiliating to see African citizens trying to reach another country at almost any price. It’s terrible to see African youth trying to cross the sea and drowning on the way to Europe.”

While on a state visit, Ouattara is also a guest at the Presidential Conference Facing Tomorrow, which opened in Jerusalem on Tuesday. He was the keynote speaker at Wednesday’s plenary session on the world economy.

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