JERUSALEM, July 25 (Xinhua) -- Encouraged by the recently- celebrated birth of their new country, a number of Sudanese refugees that have resided in Israel in recent years have flown home.
Among the six were a woman and her three children, aged two to six, the Yedioth Aharonot daily reported on Monday. The previous day they boarded a flight at Ben-Gurion International Airport to a third country, from where they will continue on their journey to South Sudan.
The nation officially proclaimed its independence on July 9, following a referendum on secession in January.
Israel's Population and Migration Authority (PMA) handled the departure procedures with the assistance of the International Christian Embassy. The refugees were interviewed by foreign organizations that oversee asylum laws to ensure that they were leaving by their free will and not being deported.
The refugees were given a special state stipend to ease their absorption in South Sudan -- 500 U.S. dollars per adult and 300 U. S. dollars for each of the children, according to the report.
A PMA spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
Some 6,000 Sudanese refugees and labor migrants currently live in Israel, after entering the country through the border with Egypt, according to official figures published by local media.
Immigration officials estimated that many of them will follow suit and initiate a request to return home, optimistic that South Sudan will offer them a brighter, safer future.
Israel's Interior Minister Eli Yishai had reportedly launched preparations for the orderly departure of additional refugees, 600 of whom left the country in recent months.
Since Israeli airlines do not offer direct flights to Sudan, the government will lease planes and fly the refugees at its own expense. The PMA plans to officially call on the refugees to return home.