Tunisia lurches into racist, xenophobic storm


Tunisia accused of racism, xenophobia

from AHMED ZAYED in Tripoli, Libya
Libya Bureau
TRIPOLI, (CAJ News) – TUNISIA is rapidly surpassing Libya as the country in the continent most hostile to Black African migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

This follows revelations by a human rights organisation how Tunisian police, military, and national guard, including the coast guard, had committed serious abuses against these vulnerable members of the community.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it documented abuses include beatings, use of excessive force, some cases of torture, arbitrary arrests and detention, collective expulsions, dangerous actions at sea, forced evictions, and theft of money and belongings.

“Tunisian authorities have abused Black African foreigners, fueled racist and xenophobic attitudes, and forcibly returned people fleeing by boat who risk serious harm in Tunisia,” said Lauren Seibert, refugee and migrant rights researcher at HRW.

The organisation argued that by funding security forces who commit abuses during migration control, the European Union (EU) shares responsibility for the suffering of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in Tunisia.

This week, the EU announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Tunisia on a new “strategic partnership” and a funding package of up to €1 billion for the country.

Funding includes €105 million for “border management, search and rescue, anti-smuggling and return.”

The Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte highlighted that the partnership would include focus on “bolstering efforts to stop irregular migration.”

EU has already dedicated at least €93-178 million in migration-related funding to Tunisia cumulatively between 2015 and 2022, including by reinforcing and equipping security forces to prevent irregular migration and stop boats heading for Europe.

In addition to the documented security force abuses, HRW lamented that Tunisian authorities had failed to ensure adequate protection, justice, or support for many victims of forced evictions and racist attacks, at times even blocking such efforts.

As a result, with respect to Black Africans, Tunisia is therefore denounced as neither a safe place for disembarkation of third country nationals intercepted or rescued at sea, nor a “safe third country” for transfers of asylum seekers.

Such violations by Tunisian authorities have in the past been synonymous with fellow North African country, Libya, for years a route to Europe by African migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

– CAJ News



scroll to top