According to the Malawian labour ministry, several hundred young men have travelled to Israel to work on farms left empty after the Gaza conflict.
There are plans for more flights in the near future. On Saturday, 221 young people from the country in southern Africa were transported to Israel on the first flight.
Following the tensions created by the Gaza war on October 7, a large number of labourers left Israel’s farms, which constitute a considerable portion of the country’s economy.
Foreign labourers heading back to their home nations and Palestinians from Gaza whose work licences were cancelled by Israel following the assaults were among those who fled.
Wezi Kayira, Malawi’s secretary for labour, named Israel as one of several nations included in a government labour export initiative aimed at boosting foreign exchange reserves and giving young people jobs.
Kayira reassured us that their safety is still a top concern and that they will be working in approved facilities that are rated as “fit and safe” settings.
The aircraft took off not long after Israel gave Malawi a $60 million aid package in the middle of its continuous economic difficulties.
But proponents of rights and good governance criticised the way the arrangement was handled, especially in light of the government’s secrecy surrounding the workforce export agreement.
The Human Rights Defenders Coalition’s chairman, Gift Trapence, emphasised the protection of workers’ rights and urged openness in labour agreements with Israel and other countries.
Leader of the opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa criticised the arrangement in parliament, saying it is unacceptable to send young people to a nation that is experiencing turmoil.
Over the years, Malawi has developed close ties with Israel, differing from certain African countries in their support of Palestinian rights. In the past, agricultural school graduates from Malawi were transported to Israel.
Malawi will become the first country in decades to establish a full embassy to Israel in Jerusalem when President Lazarus Chakwera announced plans to do so in 2021.
Concerns regarding the ethics and openness of such agreements in the face of ongoing war have been raised by the recent decision to airlift young Malawians to work on Israeli fields.
The country’s agricultural labourers have been leaving in large numbers, according to the Israeli Agriculture Ministry. Of those leaving, half were Palestinians who had been denied entry into Israel from the occupied West Bank since the October 7 attacks.
Israel is seeking to hire some 5,000 labourers from several nations, including Malawi, in order to fill the workforce shortage on its fields.