An estimated 300 African migrants — mostly from South Sudan and Eritrea — are expected to leave Israel in the course of November, under a voluntary repatriation program overseen by the Interior Ministry.
The figure, reported by Channel 2 news on Thursday, represents a large increase on the same month last year, when only a handful of migrants left in this way.
Overall, almost 2,000 of the tens of thousands of migrants who entered Israel illegally, seeking refugee status and/or work, will leave under the program in the course of 2013. Their departure is encouraged by the payment to each migrant who leaves of a $3,500 stipend.
Israel has largely stemmed the flow of African migrants into the country by upgrading the border fence with Egypt, but has sparked controversy over its handling of arrivals’ refugee claims — very few of which are upheld — and is grappling with fierce opposition in some quarters to the migrants’ presence, notably in southern Tel Aviv neighborhoods where many live.