Gambia Repatriates Citizens from Tunisia Amid Harsh Conditions for African Migrants

Afaf Fahchouch
Afaf Fahchouch
3 Min Read
photo africa 23

In response to challenging conditions faced by African migrants stranded at the Tunisia-Libya border, Gambia announced on Friday the repatriation of 40 of its citizens from Tunisia. This comes after a similar operation involving a group of migrants who were also stranded in Libya. The Gambian government collaborated with the International Organization for Migration, a UN agency, to facilitate the return.

The situation for the migrants deteriorated following Tunisian President Kais Saied’s speech on February 21, strongly opposing irregular migration and denouncing the arrival of “hordes of irregular migrants” from sub-Saharan Africa. He also referred to an “organized criminal plan, established at the beginning of this century, to change Tunisia’s demographic makeup.”

After clashes that resulted in the death of a Tunisian citizen on July 3rd, dozens of African migrants were expelled from the city of Sfax and relocated to border areas with Libya and Algeria.

Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental organization, reported that Tunisian police “expelled” around 1200 Africans to desolate areas near Libya to the east and Algeria to the west.

The conditions faced by these migrants are harsh, enduring extreme heat during the day and cold at night, with no access to water, food, or shelter from the elements.

Gambia’s government stated its commitment to evacuating its citizens present in North African countries. On Friday, a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry confirmed that the voluntarily repatriated migrants arrived in the capital, Banjul, around 02:00 local time (02:00 GMT).

In collaboration with the International Organization for Migration, several West African countries repatriated 87 of their citizens from Libya on Wednesday.

Earlier this year, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, and Senegal repatriated hundreds of their citizens from Tunisia due to a wave of racist attacks.

Between June 21 and July 4, Gambia repatriated about 300 migrants, with over half of them being stuck in Libya, while others were intercepted on boats in Senegalese, Mauritanian, and Moroccan waters. Senegal also repatriated 50 of its citizens on Wednesday through Morocco.

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