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Israel deports migrants

Israel pushes ahead with the deportation of migrants to several African countries

Migrants disembark from an airplane from Israel upon arrival at the airport in Juba, Sudan

Migrants from the Ivory Coast living in Israel are going to be deported within the next few days, said the Israeli Interior Ministry in a statement last Thursday. This comes on the heels of the deportation of over 200 South Sudanese illegal migrants last month.

The first group of deported African migrants from South Sudan were airlifted out of the country following a Jerusalem Administrative Court decision on June 7 ruled the migrants did not face danger in returning back to their countries of origin. The second group of migrants was deported about a week later.

Some of the South Sudanese migrants left “voluntarily” and were paid by the Israeli government for doing so, while others were arrested and forced to leave. Israel is giving the migrants from the Ivory Coast the right to leave voluntarily as well, before they are deported on Thursday 12 July. The Israel government has offered the Ivory Coast migrants less money than their Sudanese counterparts. A second group of migrants from South Sudan will be deported in mid-July after the school year has ended.

Early in June, a few days before the court ruling, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with his ministers demanding 25,000 illegal migrants from South Sudan, the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Ethiopia to be deported, as well as 35,000 migrants from Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia, be held in detention centres in the Negev desert. The number of migrants in Israel is a little less than 60,000.

Most migrants travelled to Israel over the past few years, escaping humanitarian crises in their own countries. Most entered Israel illegally by crossing the Egyptian-Israeli border.

There has been an outcry from human rights organisations against Israel’s decision to deport the migrants. Israeli rights groups have similar decried such measures. The Human Rights Watch representative in Israel, Bill Van Esveld, told Voice of America Israel lacked concrete policy directives to deal with the migrant influx. “(Israel) it doesn’t really have much of a policy when it comes to anyone who is not Jewish,” he said. Israeli extremists opposed to the migrant presence in the country, fear that migrants are a threat to Israeli society and identity.

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