March 28, 2023

On Sunday, Tunisia announced measures to benefit immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa following growing incitement against them following a speech by President Qais Syed.

In a speech on 21 February, the President of Tunisia underscored the need for “urgent action” to stop the flow of illegal migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, stressing that the phenomenon is leading to “violence and crime” and is part of a “criminal conspiracy to change the demographic composition of the country.

Said’s statements were widely condemned by international and Tunisian organizations, who considered them “racist” and “inciting hate”.

However, the President of the Republic announced in a statement on Sunday that measures had been taken in favor of immigrants, including the issuance of one-year residence permits for students from African countries.

The authorities also decided to extend the validity of residence permits from three to six months, as well as to facilitate voluntary departure and exempt irregular migrants from paying fines for delaying leaving the country.

In addition, the authorities confirmed that they will work to strengthen the instruction and strengthen the necessary social, medical and psychological assistance to immigrants.

The Tunisian authorities have indicated that they will work to “reduce the phenomenon of exploitation of illegal migrants” by tightening monitoring campaigns.

In a statement, Tunisia reiterated its “surprise” at what it called a “campaign” against it, emphasizing that it “supports victims of any kind of racial discrimination and does not recognize the existence of victims of any form of discrimination.”

On Saturday, about 300 Malians and Ivorians returned to the two countries from Tunisia as part of an evacuation organized by Bamako and Abidjan.

A large number of the 21,000 sub-Saharan migrants officially registered in Tunisia, most of whom are illegal, have lost their jobs and been driven from their homes since Said’s speech about two weeks ago.

Dozens of immigrants were arrested in the course of police operations, some of them sent to prison, others testified to human rights organizations that they were verbally and physically abused, alleging the existence of “militia” behind what was happening.

This tense situation caused dozens of migrants to flock to their embassies, especially the headquarters of the Ivory Coast and Mali embassies, which soon received hundreds of requests to voluntarily leave Tunisia.

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