New Phase of Voluntary Return for Illegal Migrants

YERUSHALAYIM -
African migrants outside the Holot detention center in the Negev during a recent protest demanding refugee status.  (FLASH90)
African migrants outside the Holot detention center in the Negev during a recent protest demanding refugee status. (FLASH90)

Israel is about to launch a new phase in the voluntary deportation of illegal migrants from Africa, the Population, Immigration, and Borders Authority announced on Tuesday.

PIBA said that Interior Minister Gilad Erdan “has formulated a process that will begin in the coming days to expand the voluntary return of infiltrators to a third country.”

According to PIBA, migrants who are selected for “voluntary deportation” will be given 30 days to get ready to leave Israel, and those who refuse will face a hearing on whether to imprison them, The Jerusalem Post reported.

There are approximately 2,000 migrants currently housed at the Holot detention facility in the Negev, representing just a fraction of the total population of some 42,000 from Eritrea and Sudan in the country.

Israel has reportedly worked out arrangements with two African countries willing to absorb the migrants, and which have also pledged not deport them to their home countries, where they could face persecution.

The PIBA said that in the first stage of the plan, representatives from PIBA will which detainees will be the first to leave Israel, and determine which still have asylum requests pending. Those who don’t have pending requests will be informed of all of the aspects of their return, and will receive airfare, a hotel, and an unspecified stipend from the state.

Interior Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said in a statement released on Tuesday that “this process will encourage infiltrators to leave the territory of Israel in a safe and respectful way, and will be an effective tool to carry out our obligations to help residents of Israel and south Tel Aviv restore the way of life they were used to.”

Since the beginning of 2014 around 1,500 migrants have agreed to be deported to a third-party country in Africa and around 7,000 who agreed to be returned to their home country.