Rights groups say Tunisia dumps migrants on Libyan border
Tunisia has expelled hundreds of Sub-Saharan African migrants to a buffer zone in the border with Libya without due process, Human Rights Watch said.
The group includes asylum seekers, women and children in addition to regular African migrants who were abandoned in the buffer zones following a campaign marked by violence, it said.
The Tunisian government should halt collective expulsions and urgently enable humanitarian access to the African migrants and asylum seekers already expelled to a dangerous area at the Tunisia-Libya border, with little food and no medical assistance,” said Lauren Seibert, refugee and migrant rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.
People interviewed said they had been arrested in raids by police, national guard, or military in and near Sfax, a port city southeast of the capital, Tunis.
Tensions have been high in Sfax for months as Tunisian residents campaigned for African foreigners to leave, escalating to recent attacks against Black Africans and clashes with Tunisians.
Tensions in Sfax take place as Tunis seeks EU aid to tackle migration. Talks continue between Tunis and Brussels that would provide more than €1bn in EU support for Tunisia’s floundering economy and stem the flow of migration from its shores to Europe.
The package, which includes €105mn for border control, was announced last month during a visit to Tunis by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, but finalizing the details has taken longer than expected.
European officials have warned that a potential implosion of the Tunisian economy would result in more migrants crossing the Mediterranean.
Italy, where arrivals have soared more than tenfold from the start of the year, has played a key part in lobbying the EU for support to the north African country.