More than 100 migrants and asylum seekers gathered outside a United Nations building in Tunis on Wednesday demanding they be repatriated or transferred to another country because of the harassment they say they have suffered in Tunisia.
Most of those gathered were from Sudan and claimed to have been persecuted by Tunisians since president Kais Saied lashed out at sub-Saharan African migrants last month and inveighed against a perceived plot to erase Tunisia’s identity.
"The organization's procedures (to give asylum) are very long. I have (been in Tunisia ) five years and I have not seen anyone who obtained asylum (for a country) outside Tunisia and travelled. Secondly, we do not have protection in Tunisia, now they have removed our homes and (there are) many other violations against Blacks (Black people coming from other African countries) in addition to the Tunisian state that does not want our presence (in the country)” said Bashir Youssef Alrachid, asylum seeker from Sudan.
Another protester, Saddam Abderrahim, called on the United Nations and European Union to help migrants like himself leave Tunisia to find another country to settle in.
“We are patient and stick together to find a solution. I appeal to the United Nations, the European Union and all humanitarian organizations to help us evacuate from Tunisia towards any other safe country, and not return to our country from which we fled....." he said.
The migrants have been demonstrating outside the UN building for the past 10 days.
After concerns voiced by Tunisia’s Western and African allies in recent weeks, the Tunisian government has announced a string of new, if limited, measures for sub-Saharan Africans living in Tunisia.
They include a hotline for migrants to report any violations of their rights, medical and psychological assistance for all migrants, and new residence cards for students from other African countries “to facilitate their stay on Tunisian soil.”
Another measure waives fines for sub-Saharan Africans who have exceeded their residency permits — if they agree to a voluntary return programme.