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Migrants Face ‘daily Institutional Violence’ in Tunisia: NGO

Migrants and refugees are experiencing ‘daily institutional violence’ in Tunisia, a key departure point for sub-Saharan Africans trying to reach Europe, the World Organisation Against Torture said on Monday.

In a report, the Geneva-based rights group said migrants passing through Tunisia faced an unprecedented level of ‘arbitrary’ arrests, ‘forced displacements’ and ‘expulsions towards the borders’ with Libya and Algeria.

‘Institutional violence remains daily for people on the move, under the guise of fighting illegal immigration and the criminal networks responsible for trafficking migrants,’ it wrote in ‘The Roads of Torture’, published on International Migrants Day.

Almost 70,000 migrants were intercepted this year while attempting to cross from Tunisia to Italy, already more than double the 2022 figure, the Tunisian National Guard told AFP earlier this month.

The European Union and Italy have increasingly pressured Tunisian authorities to reduce the number.

The NGO said there was a turning point in July when hundreds of sub-Saharan migrants were arrested in a crackdown following a brawl in the town of Sfax that left a Tunisian man dead.

Most were picked up on Tunisia’s eastern coastline near Sfax, the jumping-off point for many migrants, located around 130 kilometres from the Italian island of Lampedusa.

‘In a few days, more than a thousand people were displaced to desert areas on the borders with Libya and Algeria,’ the report said.

It said there had already been a ‘gradual intensification’ in violence after president Kais Saied claimed in February that ‘hordes of illegal migrants’ were part of a ‘criminal plan’ aimed at ‘changing the demographic composition’ of Tunisia.

Since June, at least 5,500 migrants have been expelled from Tunisia to the border with Libya and 3,000 to that with Algeria, international humanitarian sources said.

According to these sources, more than 100 migrants are thought to have died in the Libyan-Tunisian desert this summer.

In addition, ‘the inhumane living conditions’ suffered by thousands of migrants and refugees, who are mostly in the countryside around Sfax ‘may constitute torture and ill-treatment’, the rights group said.

Source: Newage World