Tunisia: NGOs raise alarm over dire conditions of Sub-Saharan Migrants in Sfax

Tunisia: NGOs raise alarm over dire conditions of Sub-Saharan Migrants in Sfax

Tunisian civil society organizations have sounded the alarm about the precarious situation of Sub-Saharan migrants in Sfax, in southeastern Tunisia, calling for urgent intervention to assist this vulnerable group.

Approximately 500 migrants, including women and children, have gathered at Beb Jebli, the central square of the city of Sfax, amid a rise in violence against the migrants in the country’s second-largest city, Tunisian and international NGOs said in a joint statement released by the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES).

These individuals, including women and children, are in a “precarious health and human situation, living in frightening conditions, without shelter, access to water, or food,” the statement said.

After a series of mass expulsions amid rising tensions with the local population, several migrants managed to return to Sfax, where, deprived of everything, they “stay on the streets, on the ground, in very precarious conditions,” the NGOs pointed out.

They also denounced the obstruction of relief efforts, as many humanitarian organizations are still awaiting permits to intervene and provide assistance to these individuals.

As a major economic and industrial centre in southern Tunisia, the city of Sfax has witnessed violent clashes between African migrants and the local population, which demanded their departure following the death of a young Tunisian in clashes with migrants.

In February of this year, a speech by President Kais Saied caused an uproar both locally and internationally, with his remarks being considered “violent” and “racist” toward Sub-Saharan African migrants.

Several African countries, including Côte d’Ivoire and Mali, organized repatriation operations for their nationals in Tunisia due to the increase in attacks and hostility towards the Sub-Saharan community against a backdrop of an official discourse described as “racist.”

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