from AHMED ZAYED in Tripoli, Libya
TRIPOLI, (CAJ News) – SURVIVORS rescued at sea have recounted their ordeals at the Mediterranean and the hands of Tunisian authorities amid the country’s recent hostility towards foreigners.
It is feared the country could be degenerating into the “new Libya”, following similar policies by Tunisia’s southeastern neighbor over the years.
Non-governmental organisation (NGOs), Emergency, has in recent days rescued 161 people in three different operations in the Mediterranean, in coordination with the Italian Coast Guard.
Emanuele Nannini, Programme Coordinator on board Life Support rescue ship, disclosed how rescue teams faced adverse and particularly challenging maritime weather conditions, including waves four metres high, among other adversities both for the crew and the rescued people on board.
Those rescued, and who had left Libya and Tunisia, are from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Ivory Coast, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan.
Over a third of the survivors are children (61), seven of whom are accompanied and 54 unaccompanied. There are also 26 women on board, three of whom are pregnant.
Nannini said during this last mission, Emergency received many reports of boats in trouble in the Mediterranean and especially on the Tunisian route.
“In fact, we witnessed the effects of Tunisia’s recent policies towards foreigners on its territory and the serious economic crisis that is afflicting the country,” Nannini said.
“On board, the survivors told us how Tunisia risks becoming the new Libya: arbitrary arrests and police violence, armed robberies without anyone intervening, houses set on fire because they are inhabited by foreigners.”
Emergency documented how foreigners were abused in the streets, denied payment at work and how others are in prison without committing crimes.
A 45-year-old woman is quoted as saying she suffered from hypertension and spent three days at sea, without drinking or eating.
Another (28) retold how at sea, were out of food and water with her two-year-old twins.
A woman said she and her 4-year-old granddaughter were in prison in Libya for a year.
Life Support has rescued 564 people since it began operations in December 2022.
– CAJ News