PM: Migrants to be deported in dignified manner (JERUSALEM POST) By HERB KEINON, REUTERS 06/17/12)
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With heart-rending scenes of police rounding up frightened African
migrants on the nightly news, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
pledged at the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday an orderly deportation
process that will "preserve the dignity" of those slated for
"The first plane of illegal infiltrators will leave tonight for South
Sudan," Netanyahu said. "Next week another plane will leave. The
government is today essentially starting the return of the illegal
infiltrators to their lands of origin."
Netanyahu said the government is dealing with the migrant problem
through the completion of the border fence with Egypt within the next
few months; an expedited process to deport infiltrators, in some
cases to third countries: and taking away the motivation for others
to come to Israel by implementing a number of steps.
These disincentive steps include ending the practice of directing
infiltrators to Tel Aviv or other locations, and rather transferring
them directly to detention centers where they can be held for up to
two years. In addition, Netanyahu said the Knesset approved a law
last week to level strict penalties on employers giving the migrants
"The infiltrators come here to work," Netanyahu said. "If there will
not be work for them here they will have no reason to come."
The Population, Immigration and Borders Authority (PIBA) had
announced on Friday that it was extending a one-week deadline for
South Sudanese migrants to voluntarily leave Israel in exchange for
1,000 euros and a flight ticket home courtesy of the State of Israel.
The Interior Ministry issued the ultimatum last week, saying the
migrants would be arrested and expelled after the deadline was up.
PIBA stated that some 300 people in the South Sudanese migrant
community had already opted to leave voluntarily. The entire
community is estimated at between 700 and 1,500 people. The one-week
deadline was extended due to the relative success of the operation,
according to PIBA, which did not specify until when it would extend
the deadline. “Operation Going Back Home” was put into effect after
the Jerusalem District Court ruled last week that the South Sudanese
would not be in physical danger if they were returned to their
Meanwhile, the South Sudanese government said Sunday that it 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." Ben Hartman contributed to
this story. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 06/17/12)
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