MK urges gov’t to give more money to S. Sudanese

Danon: We must increase the speed with which they are going back to their country.

African migrants meet housing protesters_311 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
African migrants meet housing protesters_311
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
The government needs to provide more cash incentives and vocational training to South Sudanese in Israel to encourage and expedite their return to their newly-independent country, MK Danny Danon (Likud) said during a meeting of the Knesset’s Immigration and Absorption Committee on Tuesday.
Danon also told the meeting that every governmental office must invest more state manpower to the issue and increase the amount of money given to each returning Sudanese from the current stipend of $500 to $1000.
In the meeting, Danon said “some of the [African] infiltrators came here during a time of turmoil, but at the time being they have the opportunity to return to their country. At the moment there is a framework that can help encourage them to do so, but we must increase the speed with which they are returning because both they and their government are interested in their return.”
Last Thursday the nascent government of South Sudan signed diplomatic relations with Israel, a little over two weeks after they declared their independence on July 9th.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Yaakov Revah, the deputy head of the Africa desk at the Foreign Ministry, said he would work to encourage Israeli businessmen interested in investing in South Sudan to employ south Sudanese who have returned from Israel.
He also repeated the call to increase the monetary supplement given to them by Israel – and for the government to offer them employment training that would help prepare them for the return to their country.
The over 600 South Sudanese who have returned to their country so far have done so through the assistance of the Israeli government and non-profit group Organization Blessing International.
There are over 35,000 African migrants in Israel according to the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority. Of these, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates around 3,000 – 4,000 are from South Sudan.
The Hotline for Migrant Workers put out a press release after the meeting Tuesday in which they said that while many South Sudanese are hopeful about their country’s newfound independence, the uncertainty and lack of infrastructure will deter many from returning.
Public policy coordinator for the Hotline for Migrant Workers Sigal Rozen told The Jerusalem Post that most of the South Sudanese in Israel “very much want to return to their country, but it’s mainly because of their situation in Israel.”
Though South Sudan is one of the world’s most troubled countries in nearly every quality- of-life ranking, Rozen said that South Sudanese in Israel are looking to return there because of the push factor of Israeli policy and the difficulties such policies present for their lives in the country.
“Many of them have already returned, and this is mostly because of the policy of the State of Israel that doesn’t give them refugee status or allow them to work legally.
It’s the push factor of Israeli policies more than the pull of the independence of South Sudan.”
William Tall, UNHCR representative in Israel said that he left the meeting on Tuesday with “a sense that the government intends to handle this issue in a very reasonable manner.”
He added that the government is looking at the big picture and sees South Sudan as a friendly state that they want to develop their relationship with.
Tall said he believed that Tuesday’s session was more about increasing incentives and training people for their return, as opposed to “we’re showing you the door here.”