Israel to Offer African Migrants $5,000 to Leave

Latest offer more than triples previous incentive.

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The government plans to offer $5,000 to any African migrant who agrees to leave the country voluntarily and promises not to return. This is more than triple the $1,500 it has offered departing migrants until now.

Over the past few months, hundreds of migrants, mainly from Eritrea and Sudan, have accepted the previous offer, which also included a free plane ticket.

Ever since mid-September, when the High Court of Justice overturned a law that allowed illegal migrants to be jailed for up to three years, the state has been scrambling to find a new solution to the migrant problem. At a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu two weeks ago, Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar proposed significantly raising the grant given to departing migrants.

Though Netanyahu approved the idea in principle, no final decision has yet been made, since the Prime Minister’s Office is still discussing the matter with the Finance Ministry. The Interior Ministry hopes the augmented grant will constitute a major incentive and result in hundreds of migrants leaving the country every month.

According to data submitted to the Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers this week by the Population, Immigration and Border Authority, there were 53,636 African migrants in Israel as of the end of September. But only 38 migrants have crossed the border from Egypt so far this year.

Aside from the grants, the interior and justice ministries are also discussing other measures to deal with the migrant problem. Netanyahu has given approval in principle to establishing an open detention center for illegal migrants and enacting new legislation that would allow them to be jailed for 18 months instead of three years.

African migrants in southern Tel Aviv.Credit: Moti Milrod

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