JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel's Population and Immigration Authority said Sunday that some 1,608 African asylum seekers have left the country through a controversial procedure called "voluntary repatriation."
Israel has approved in June a policy that offers 3,500 US dollars to asylum seekers who would sign a form saying they agree to return to their homelands.
Asylum seekers and local human rights organizations have been advocating against this procedure, saying evidence suggested that migrant prisoners were extorted for their agreement while they were in Israeli detention centers.
According to the Immigration Authority, some 63 asylum seekers voluntarily left Israel in November. In the last three months no asylum seekers entered Israel except four Sudanese who were arrested upon entering Israel, the authority said.
Last Sunday, the government approved a new plan against more than 50,000 African asylum seekers who currently live in Israel. The plan added 550 new positions to law enforcement teams that will act against the migrants themselves and those who employ them.
In addition, the government is promoting a bill in the parliament that will allow it to imprison asylum seekers for up to a year, even without a trail.