Criticism as Malawians sent to work on Israeli farms

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The Malawians will replace some of the more than 10,000 foreign farm workers who have left Israel due to the war

Malawian opposition politicians and rights groups have criticised President Lazarus Chakwera and his government for sending 221 young Malawians to work on farms in Israel.

The move on Saturday followed Israel’s aid package of $60m (£47m) two weeks ago to help Malawi’s economic recovery.

The labour export deal has been criticised amid concerns over the secrecy with which it was done and the potential risks to citizens at a time Israel is in a conflict with the Palestinian Hamas group.

“Sending people to a war-torn country like Israel, where some countries are withdrawing their labour is something unheard of,” Malawian opposition leader Kondwani Nankhumwa told the BBC’s Newsday programme.

He also questioned why the government had kept the deal secret, only informing parliament about a plan to send workers to an unnamed country on 22 November.

The government has defended the deal, saying that it will export Malawians to Israel and other countries to “fulfil this administration’s commitment to job creation and youth empowerment”.

The government also assured of the safety and security of the Malawians, saying that they will work in locations which are “classified as fit and safe” and will be provided with medical insurance and repatriation protections.

The deal comes amid an economic crisis in Malawi, marked by a 44% currency devaluation and drastic cost-cutting measures by President Chakwera.

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