Israel’s government announced the departure of the first charter flight on Sunday and said it would be carrying about 120 “illegal immigrants” who had agreed to be “voluntarily repatriated” back to South Sudan.
Those deported on Monday in the first wave of expulsions of tens of thousands of Africans were given around €1 000 ($1 250) per adult and €400 per child.
“They were telling us we have Aids and that we are a disease. They were telling us a lot of bad things”, said 30-year-old Mayuol Juac, who worked as a waiter in Eilat and Tel Aviv for five years.
“They say we are a disease, the cancer of Israel,” Bol Duop (25), who also worked in the hospitality sector for five years said.
After being arrested three months ago and thrown in jail for a day on suspicion of being illegal, Juac had his visa confiscated and came under increasing pressure to leave.
“They took it from me and they said: ‘You have just one week to leave, one week to leave the country!’
“Those without papers, they arrested them and put them in jail until their deportation. Then it is jail to the airport to Juba,” Juac said.
But South Sudan’s Minister of Humanitarian Affairs Joseph Lual Achuil insisted, “People are not being deported”.
“We have agreed with the Israeli government for our people to be peacefully and voluntarily repatriated,” he told reporters at Juba airport on Monday.
South Sudan maintains good relations with Israel.
The links date back to the decades of civil war that pitted the South against the Khartoum government, dominated by Arab Muslims. South Sudan, peopled mainly by black Christians, proclaimed independence on July 9. – AFP