Sub-Saharan migrants in Sfax, July 5, 2023. IMED HADDAD / AFP
The human rights NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Tunisia on Friday June 7 to put an end to the « expulsions collectives » of African migrants to a desert area near the Libyan border.
Hundreds of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa find themselves in a very precarious situation in a desert area in southern Tunisia, after being driven out in recent days from the city of Sfax (center-east) amid intense tensions. with the local population who demanded their departure, according to testimonies collected by AFP.
Read also: In Tunisia, sub-Saharans expelled from Sfax, on the shore of the Mediterranean, towards the desert
A surge of violence fell on Tuesday and Wednesday on these migrants after one of them killed a resident of the city during a brawl. “Tunisian security forces have collectively expelled several hundred black African migrants and asylum seekers, including children and pregnant women, since July 2, 2023 to a remote and militarized buffer zone on the Tunisia-Libya border. »HRW said in a statement.
An increasingly xenophobic discourse
“Many people have reported violence from the authorities during their arrest or deportation”, added the NGO. She called on the Tunisian government to “put an end to collective expulsions and urgently allow humanitarian access” to these migrants who have only “little food and no medical assistance”said Lauren Seibert, refugee rights researcher at HRW, in the statement.
Migrants interviewed by the NGO said that “several people died or were killed in the border area between July 2 and July 5, some of whom were allegedly shot or beaten by the Tunisian army or the national guard”according to the press release from HRW, which however specifies that it is not able to confirm these allegations for lack of access to the area.
Read also: Tunisia: surge of hatred in Sfax against sub-Saharans
HRW called on Tunisia to “investigate security forces implicated in abuses and bring them to justice”. “African migrants and asylum seekers, including children, are desperate to get out of the dangerous border zone and find food, medical care and safety”Ms. Seibert added: ” There’s no time to lose “.
An increasingly open xenophobic discourse against these migrants has spread since the Tunisian President, Kaïs Saïed, condemned illegal immigration in February, presenting it as a demographic threat to his country.