Last updated: 24 July, 2012

Israel to deport last South Sudanese on Wednesday

A final planeload of illegal migrants from South Sudan is to leave Israel for home on Wednesday, bringing to a close a six-week sweep against them, an Israeli official said.

“Since the start of the operation to expel the South Sudanese, 700 nationals of that country have been repatriated,” Population and Migration Authority spokeswoman Sabine Hadad told AFP.

“Wednesday will see the last flight of this operation, bringing the total number of South Sudanese repatriated to between 850 and 900,” she said.

Israel began to round up South Sudanese in the country illegally on June 10, after a court ruled that their lives were no longer threatened in their homeland.

The Jewish state says it is hosting more than 60,000 illegal immigrants from Africa, but only a fraction came from South Sudan, with officials estimating the number at around 1,500.

Hadad said Israeli authorities were still considering the cases of 550 South Sudanese whose homes were near the volatile border with Sudan and therefore “who may be in danger if they return home.”

On June 24 a court gave the interior ministry the green light to start rounding up and deporting an estimated 2,000 illegal migrants from the Ivory Coast.

Hadad said that a July 17 deadline for Ivorians to turn themselves in for grant-assisted repatriation had passed with only 15 takers and a roundup was underway with about 100 in custody pending deportation.

Israel’s government is also planning tough new legislation against migrants, with the cabinet on Sunday approving stiff fines or six months in jail for illegal residents sending money home.

In addition, Haaretz newspaper reports, the interior ministry is preparing a draft bill that would deny migrants the right to appeal deportation orders while still in Israel, obliging them to leave before starting the process.

“In this way, it is possible that most of the appeals will become superfluous and we shall save ourselves unnecessary legal proceedings,” the paper quotes a ministry note on the bill as saying.