Israel gives Ivorian migrants ultimatum

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Isareli Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Thursday gave illegal migrants from Ivory Coast 18 days to leave Israel voluntarily with a cash grant or be forcibly deported without aid.

“Whoever leaves within this period will receive a grant,” a statement from his office quoted him as saying. “Whoever does not will be expelled.”

The statement said that until July 16, immigrants leaving of their own free will would receive $500 (402 euros) per adult and $100 (80 euros) per child.

“This is an important step on the way to repatriation of infiltrators to their homelands on the one hand and returning a sense of security to residents of (Israeli) neighbourhoods on the other,” the statement quoted Yishai as saying.

An Israeli court on Sunday endorsed government plans for the deportation of an estimated 2,000 Ivorians.

The United Nations declared Ivory Coast “a crisis state” in 2004 after years of civil unrest. But after fighting ended and economist Alassane Ouattara took over as president in 2011, Israel said it was cancelling a long-standing policy of “collective protection” for Ivorian migrants.

On June 10, Israeli authorities began a roundup of South Sudanese migrants slated for deportation, three days after a court ruled that their lives were no longer threatened in their homeland.

Since then it has flown about 240 South Sudanese back to their newly-independent country.

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