The South Sudanese government supports Israel's decision to send illegal migrants back to South Sudan. Formally independent from Sudan since last July, the African country received clandestine Israeli help for decades prior and counts on wider investment in its struggling agriculture and oil sectors.
"South Sudan and Israel, we consider ourselves brothers and sisters because we have very strong relationship," Clement T. Dominic, the South Sudanese official overseeing the airlifts set to begin on Sunday night, told Reuters in an interview.
"The situation is good at home, and that is why we are encouraging them (migrants) to come back," he said.
Dominic put the number of South Sudanese in Israel at 700, less than half the 1,500 figure given by the Netanyahu government - a discrepancy that may be due to administrative confusion over those who arrived before Juba's independence.
According to Dominic, most of the migrants would leave voluntarily, encouraged by the free transport and Israeli handouts of 1000 euros per adult and 300 euros per child. "I think this is a good package that will allow these people to get reintegrated when they come back to South Sudan," said Dominic, whose title is undersecretary of the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry.
"There is a lot of potential in South Sudan," he said, noting that "some of these people, I think, they got skill here in Israel, in hotel industries, in small business, and when they get back home they are definitely going to contribute to the development of the new nation. There are a lot of opportunities."