Middle East

Israel sends 150 illegal migrants back to Sudan

Sudanese migrants at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv
Image caption The migrants were due to go home via a third country

Israel has deported 150 Sudanese migrants who entered the country illegally in search of work.

They were flown out on Monday and were returning home via a third country, an Israeli official said, speaking anonymously.

The UN refugee agency has confirmed the operation and says no coercion was involved in the deportations.

Israel recently stepped up efforts to stop Africans from entering illegally across its southern border with Egypt.

The Israeli official said some 200 Sudanese had been flown out of the country in recent months after agreeing to return home - but the latest operation was the largest yet carried out.

The official said no further details were being given because of concern about the migrants' safety once they returned to Sudan.

The Israeli government estimates that over the past five years, more than 30,000 Africans have entered illegally via the country's southern border.

Israel says the migrants - from Sudan, Eritrea and other countries - come mainly in search of work, and are threatening local jobs.

The government has been building a barrier along the Egyptian border to try to stop people from crossing it illegally, and it has also approved plans to set up a special facility to house those who are detained.

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