Deteriorating Situation for Migrants in Tunisia Amid Resumption of Crossings

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More than a year after the presidential statement concerning the influx of migrants posing demographic challenges to Tunisia reports from Tunisian and international NGOs highlight ongoing violations against sub-Saharan migrants in the country.

These organizations condemn the Tunisian authorities’ security-focused and repressive approach, which disregards the human dimension of the situation faced by sub-Saharan migrants within Tunisia.

While irregular departures towards Italy have resumed in recent days, accompanied by numerous interception and rescue operations of migrant boats, the plight of sub-Saharan migrants seeking passage to Europe from Tunisia remains exceedingly precarious.

Continued Migration Flows

Migration flows persist in Tunisia, serving as a transit point and hub for irregular departures to Italy. In Sfax, located in the eastern part of the country, many sub-Saharan migrants have been expelled from the city center and have been living in olive groves in the region for several months.

They often fall victim to abuse and endure extremely harsh conditions in makeshift camps. On Monday, April 7, the International Organization for Migration, in partnership with the Tunisian Red Crescent, distributed food to nearly 7,000 stranded migrants in Sfax.

In this context, departures to Italy persist, with over 2,000 sub-Saharan migrants intercepted earlier this week during attempted crossings. The short-term security-focused approach adopted by Tunisia appears to be reaching its limitations, as indicated by a report from the Carnegie Middle East Center published at the end of March.

Moreover, the resurgence of departures from Tunisia raises concerns in Italy. Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni is scheduled to visit Tunisia for the third time next week, according to Italian media reports. Priority will be given to discussions on irregular migration, particularly following the significant reduction in migrant flows from Tunisia observed in March. However, with the favorable weather conditions of April, departures have once again escalated.

Soukaina Sghir

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