Arab Press

بالشعب و للشعب
Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024

Tunisia rejects African Union’s criticism in immigration row

Tunisia rejects African Union’s criticism in immigration row

The African Union or AU has criticized Tunisia and urged it to avoid “racialized hate speech” after President Kais Saied ordered the expulsion of undocumented migrants and said immigration was a plot aimed at changing his country’s demographic makeup.
Tunisia’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday it was surprised by the AU statement issued late on Friday, and rejected what it called “baseless accusations” that it said misunderstood the government’s position.

The AU voiced what it said was “deep shock and concern at the form and substance of the statement” issued by Tunisian authorities and reminded Tunisia of its obligation within the 55-member state AU to treat migrants with dignity.

Saied this week ordered security forces to stop all illegal migration and expel all undocumented migrants, prompting a campaign of arrests that caused widespread fear among sub-Saharan Africans as well as Black Tunisians.

Announcing the measures, he said increased undocumented immigration from sub-Saharan Africa was a conspiracy aimed at changing Tunisia’s demographic makeup and stopping it from being an Arab and Muslim country.

His comments were praised by the French far-right politician Eric Zemmour.

In response to criticism from rights groups that his remarks were racist, Saied said he was not racist and that migrants living in Tunisia legally had nothing to fear.

Rights groups were holding a demonstration on Saturday to protest against Saied’s comments and the clampdown on migrants.

Aboubacar Dobe, head of a radio station for French-speaking migrants, said it was “clear that things are different since Saied’s speech.”

The head of Radio Libre Francophone said he had received threatening phone calls.

“When it was just the (recently created far-right) Tunisian Nationalist Party or on social media, people thought the state would protect them,” he said. “Now, they feel abandoned.”

Hosni Maati, a lawyer who helps an association for Ivorians in Tunisia, said that “since the president’s speech, (Tunisians) have totally lost it.”

Maati said sub-Saharan Africans had been living without papers in Tunisia for years as authorities turned a blind eye.

Bureaucratic obstacles prevented many from regularizing their status, making them easy targets for exploitation by unscrupulous employers as cheap labor.

Authorities began a wave of arrests targeting migrants two weeks ago and have so far detained around 400 people, rights groups say. Most have since been released.

“You can’t solve such a complex situation by making a speech and arresting people left, right and centre,” Maati said.

Jean Bedel Gnabli, deputy head of an association for sub-Saharan migrants, said the whole community -- also including Senegalese, Guineans, Congolese and Comorans -- was living in fear.

“They feel like they’ve been handed over to mob justice,” he said.

Even sub-Saharan African students at Tunisian universities, who in principle are in the country legally, have been affected.

AESAT, an association that supports them, sent out a message this week urging them “not to go out, even to go to class, until authorities ensure we are properly protected from these attacks.”

Gnabli predicted the Ivorian government would organize repatriation flights for those wishing to leave.

In the meantime, he called on Tunisian authorities to “guarantee their security” and “treat them with dignity.”

In the Bhar Lazreg neighborhood of north Tunis, streets of informal African restaurants and barber shops have closed, apparently for good.

A creche that had taken care of dozens of African children was nowhere to be seen.

Ivorians Blede Dibe and Michel Yere worked manual jobs in the neighbourhood until they found themselves abruptly unemployed two weeks ago.

But they agreed there was little point in returning to their home country.

“Go back to do what? There’s no work for us in Ivory Coast,” they said in unison.
Newsletter

Related Articles

Arab Press
0:00
0:00
Close
China Criticizes US for Vetoing UN Ceasefire Resolution in Gaza
Saudi Arabia ranks first in UN index for e-government services in MENA
Israel Records 20% Drop In GDP, War In Gaza Is The Reason
Saudi Arabia's FDI Inflows Grow with New International Standards
Venture Capitals Power Up Across MENA Region
PM Modi Announces Opening Of New CBSE Office In Dubai
January Funding for MENA Startups Totals $86.5 Million
Saudi Arabia accelerates digital economy growth through Nvidia partnership
Israel unveils tunnels underneath Gaza City headquarters of UN agency for Palestinian refugees
Israel deploys new military AI in Gaza war
Egypt threatens to suspend key peace treaty if Israel pushes into Gaza border town, officials say
Saudi Arabia Warns Of A "Humanitarian Catastrophe" If Israel Moves On Rafah
US University To Shut Qatar Campus Due To "Heightened Mideast Instability"
Facebook and Instagram Ban Iran's Supreme Leader
Defense Technology Showcase Held in Riyadh
Saudi Arabia’s non-oil exports rise 2.5% to $6bn in November 2023: GASTAT
Rolls-Royce Executive Encourages Saudi Women to Tap into Their Inner 'Superhero' for Success in Defense Industry
Saudi Arabia launches National Academy of Vehicles and Cars
Saudi Tourism Minister Reveals Plan for 250,000 New Hotel Rooms by 2030
SAR to more than double eastern network passenger capacity with new trains deal
Saudi Arabia Enhances National Defense with New Partnerships
Saudi Aramco Maintains Arab Light Crude Pricing to Asia for March
NEOM Establishes New York Office to Support Investors
Saudi Wealth Fund Draws in Over $25 Billion Worth of Investments in Three Years, Al-Rumayyan Reveals
The Saudi Kingdom's Ultimatum to Israel: A Win-Win Peace with Saudi Arabia and the Arab World, or a Lose-Lose Continued Occupation and Endless Conflict
Biden condemns anti-Arab hate after WSJ opinion piece calls Dearborn ‘jihad capital’
Turkey Releases Seven Hostages Captured by Pro-Gaza Gunman
Arab Parliament Commends Women's Contributions to Societal Development
British and Hungarian Foreign Ministers visited Lebanese leaders to stress the importance of enacting UN Resolution 1701
Yemen's Houthis Say They Targeted British Merchant Vessel In Red Sea
Donald Trump Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for 'Historic' Middle East Policy
US lawmakers approve F-16 jet sale to Turkey following NATO expansion support
Saudi Arabia Climbs 25 Places in World Bank's National Statistics Indicator
Tourism Growth in Saudi Arabia Fuels Advancements in the Hospitality Industry," Says Rotana Official
Houthi Rebels Request Departure of UN Staff from Yemen, Including US and UK Personnel, within a Month
Modi Inaugurates Hindu Temple on Site of Demolished Mosque in India
Over 25,000 Deaths in Gaza Amid Israeli Offensive
Escalating Clashes in Gaza as Israel Distributes Leaflets to Assist in Locating Hostages
Turkey's First Astronaut Set to Launch for International Space Station Today
Head of Palestinian Investment Fund Warns More People May Die of Hunger Than War in Gaza
Palestinian Envoy Criticizes UK for Alleged 'Double Standards' in Policies Toward Israel
Morocco to Lead UN Human Rights Council in 2024
Is artificial intelligence the solution to cyber security threats?
Egypt has been identified as the leading military force among Arab nations and ranks 15th globally
The AI Revolution in the Workforce: CEOs at Davos Predict Major Job Cuts in 2024
Iranian Nobel Laureate Narges Mohammadi Receives Additional Prison Sentence
"Gazans Urge Israeli Forces to Target Hamas in Leaked Audio"
Biden States US and UK Airstrikes on Houthis Were a 'Defensive Action
Large Pro-Palestine Rally in London as Gaza Conflict Hits Day 100
South Africa Urges World Court to Halt Israeli Actions in Gaza
×