Published by Alarm Phone | 17 / Jul / 2023

Tunisia is Not a Safe Country!

Continuano le deportazioni di massa nel deserto mentre l’UE negozia un nuovo accordo sull'immigrazione

We publish Alarm Phone's 17 July statement on the tragic situation in Tunisia.

Today, at 8:56 CEST, Alarm Phone received this message from a person who has been deported to the desert by Tunisian forces: "We are not well. We were attackedǝ by armed soldiers. The Libyan forces shot at us, beat us and raped the women during the night. I am running out of battery".

This person is one of hundreds of victims of mass deportations in the border region between Tunisia and Libya and between Tunisia and Algeria. For about two weeks, Alarm Phone has been receiving distress calls from groups of people in terrible conditions: the heat is extreme, they are surroundedǝ on both borders by armed forces, blocking escape routes. Several deaths and many medical emergencies have already been reported. However, the various authorities are not providing any medical assistance.

Alarm Phone has tried to help these people, but despite all the evidence provided and requests to intervene, the UN, IOM and UNHCR do not intervene, while in some regions the Tunisian Red Crescent's humanitarian assistance is said to be conditional on the acceptance of so-called 'voluntary repatriations'. This failure of the international organisations that are supposed to protect the rights of refugees and migrants is shameful.

While these mass deportations are taking place, yesterday Sunday, 17 July 2023, the EU agreed with the Tunisian government on a new migration agreement. In order to cooperate 'more effectively on migration', European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte travelled to Tunisia and granted substantial financial assistance, dedicated to Tunisia's border management and 'anti-trafficking' measures.

This 'Team Europe' entered into this new agreement in full awareness of the atrocities committed by the Tunisian government. Especially since 21 February, when President Kais Saied publicly supported conspiracy theories based on racism to target black people in Tunisia, the violence against people of sub-Saharan origin has intensified, as Alarm Phone has documented and denounced repeatedly.

Together with Tunisian civil society, we are trying to fight these racist pogroms, but our hands are often tied. In Tunisia, civil society actors are criminalised and persecuted by the Tunisian authorities.

If Tunisia carries out mass deportations, if Algerian and Libyan security forces attack and kidnap deportees, if the EU supports these violations politically and financially and international organisations remain silent, what can we do when we receive calls from people who are slowly dying?

We will continue to maintain contact with those who have been forcedǝ to live in the desert region. We will continue to amplify their voices calling for help and to denounce the inhuman and racist violence they suffer at the border.

Alarm Phone

Photo taken by a person deported to the Tunisian-Libyan border

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