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Israel begins handing out deportation notices to African migrants

Israel began warning thousands of African migrants on Sunday that they must leave by the end of March, officials said, under a plan that could see them jailed if they refuse.

On January 3, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the implementation of a plan to deport about 38,000 migrants who had entered the country illegally, mainly Eritreans and Sudanese.

The controversial plan gives them until the end of next month to leave voluntarily or face jail and eventual expulsion.

Immigration authority spokeswoman Sabine Haddad told AFP that officials began issuing migrants letters on Sunday advising them that they had 60 days in which to leave the country voluntarily.

For now, the notices are being given only to men without families, officials said. Israeli newspaper Haaretz said “anyone recognised as a victim of slavery or human trafficking, and those who had requested asylum by the end of 2017 but haven’t gotten a response” would also be exempt for now.

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It added that this left the number subject to near-term deportation at “between 15,000 and 20,000 people”. They will get a grant of $3,500, a flight ticket and help with obtaining travel documents.
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