Eritrean, Sudanese migrants to be deported following agreement

Interior Min: Israel approves, finalizes plan to deport Africans by way of 3rd country, process to begin after High Holidays.

By
August 28, 2013 20:15
2 minute read.
African migrant woman, South TA

African migrant woman. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

Israel has finalized an agreement with a third country to accept deported Eritrean and Sudanese migrants.

The process of sending thousands to the still-unnamed country will begin after the High Holy Days, Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar said on Wednesday.

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Speaking at a meeting of the Knesset Interior and Environment Committee, Sa’ar said Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein had given his go-ahead.

After the holidays, the government will call on Eritreans and Sudanese in Israel illegally, to return voluntarily to their native countries, Sa’ar said, adding that those who wait until after the end of an unspecified grace period could face punitive measures.

These include cancellation of the renewable residency permits that allow them to escape incarceration, and penalties against them and their employers.

The committee approved “procedures for preventing infiltration,” including a number of “negative economic incentives” meant to encourage migrants to leave.

These steps include limiting their ability to send funds home from Israel, although they can take money with them if they leave voluntarily.

These funds would be limited to the monthly minimum wage (NIS 4,300) multiplied by the number of months they lived in Israel.

Anything beyond this would require special approval from Israeli authorities, who would otherwise be permitted to seize surplus funds or property.

Sa’ar explained that the regulations are an additional step meant to deal with the African migrant issue. The high level of migration had been curbed by the combination of the new Egypt border fence and legislation, such as the amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law, which allows Israel to jail indefinitely people caught entering the country illegally, he said.

Sa’ar said government policies have resulted in about 2,000 to 3,000 migrants returning to their countries of origin or to other countries each year.

In June, former Mossad official Hagai Hadas, whom Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appointed in December to spearhead the state’s effort to send African migrants back home or to countries willing to accept them, said they would return by way of commercial flights, and the process could take a few years.

Hadas said at the time that an unnamed country had agreed both to accept African migrants from Israel and to allow them to return to their home countries by way of its territory.

Eritreans, who make up the majority of the more than 55,000 African migrants in Israel, get group protection here out of fear that they could face persecution upon return to their country. The same goes for Sudanese, who – because their country has no relations with Israel and Sudanese citizens are banned from visiting here – could face incarceration or other forms of punishment upon arriving home.


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