Saharonim - Eliyahu Hershkovitz - 22.11.2011
Saharonim detention center, Nov. 22, 2011. Photo by Eliyahu Hershkovitz
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The Interior Ministry said Tuesday that thousands of South Sudan nationals must leave Israel or face deportation.

Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad says since the Southern Sudanese have an independent state, they will no longer be given protected status in Israel. The country gained independence from Sudan in July.

Some 1,000 South Sudanese are believed to be in Israel, part of a larger influx of African migrants who have poured into the country in recent years. Some are refugees, while others are seeking employment.

Israel is trying to stop the wave of arrivals, building a barrier along the border with Egypt and pledging tough punishments to people who assist them.

Speaking Tuesday, Haddad said the South Sudanese will be offered voluntary deportation and around $1,300. After March 31, Haddad says they will be deported.

Earlier this month, the Population and Immigration Authority announced that Ivory Coast nationals would no longer receive group protection starting February 1, following a Foreign Ministry survey that concluded that it was safe for Ivorian refugees to return to their country.

It advised the 2,000 Ivorians in the country to prepare to leave within a month, adding that if they didn't leave voluntarily, they would be deported come February.

The authority justified this extremely short notice on the grounds that it had warned Ivorians to prepare for departure back in May, even though at that time it didn't specify a deadline.