More than 1,000 Sudanese and Eritrean migrants
have voluntarily left Israel
over the past two months, according to data released by the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority.
A source who is familiar with the issue told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that the trend is likely to grow.
Some 36,000 Eritreans and about 15,000 north Sudanese
migrants have infiltrated Israel over the past few years. International treaties forbid Israel to deport them because their lives would be at risk in their home countries. They do not fall under the definition of refugees, so they have been living in Israel under the "collective protection" that has been afforded them.
Local authorities assumed they would want to remain in the country for good, but apparently this is not the case. Yedioth Ahronoth has learned that since the beginning of 2012 some 1,000 north Sudanese migrants and a few dozen Eritreans have left Israel willingly after asking the Population Authority for assistance in organizing their departure. In light of the request, some of the migrants were issued passports by the Eritrean Embassy in Israel and returned to their home country via Amman
and Addis Ababa.
Israel has kept the news of their departure secret for fear that it would be accused of encouraging them to leave or forcing them out of the country.
Population Authority officials say the trend is expanding due to Interior Minister Eli Yishai's
decision to incarcerate the infiltrators upon their arrival in Israel and prevent them from finding jobs after their release. In October, according to the statistics, 260 migrants returned to Sudan, compared with only 10 migrants who returned to the African country willingly in January.
"Nearly all of the infiltrators are seeking work. Their only goal is to send money to their families. If they will be held in a detention facility and not permitted to work, they will all want to go back home," one official said.
A Foreign Ministry official said more African migrants are leaving voluntarily due to newly-enacted laws against the hiring of infiltrators.