Senegal on Thursday repatriated 76 compatriots from Tunisia and neighboring Libya, the government announced on Friday.
It is the latest sub-Saharan country to repatriate nationals after Tunisian President Kais Saied said on February 21 that the presence of Tunisian nationals in the country was a threat to the country's security.
He said the presence of "hordes" of illegal immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa was a source of "violence and crime" and a "criminal enterprise" aimed at "changing the demographic composition" of the country.
These words were followed by multiple attacks on immigrants, and hundreds of them asked to return to their embassies.
The Senegalese government opened a crisis unit and a registry to identify would-be returnees.
Out of 172 people registered and established in Tunisia and Libya, 76 were repatriated on Thursday by a flight of the national airline Air Senegal, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement published Friday on social networks.
The ministry did not specify the number of people repatriated from each of the two countries. It also did not explain why nationals were brought back from Libya.
Libya has been mired in a major political crisis since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi after 42 years of dictatorship.
Unlike neighbors such as Guinea and Mali, Senegal has been discreet about the repatriation.
Senegalese authorities banned a protest demonstration in front of the Tunisian embassy in Dakar on March 4 against the Tunisian president's remarks.
Senegalese President Macky Sall reported on March 10 on Twitter that he met with the Tunisian president the same day. "We discussed issues of common interest. I appreciated the appeasement measures he took in the context of the current situation," he said.