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Gambia repatriates nearly 300 migrants, half stranded in Libya

Gambia repatriates nearly 300 migrants, half stranded in Libya
Illegal migrants seated after their boat was intercepted by the Libyan ...   -  
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Yousef Murad/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved.


The Gambia announced on Sunday that it had repatriated nearly 300 of its nationals intercepted on the exile route at the end of June and beginning of July, more than half of whom were stranded in Libya.

Between 21 June and 4 July, Banjul repatriated 140 Gambians intercepted by Senegal, Mauritania and Morocco on board three boats carrying migrants from West Africa, said a spokeswoman for the Gambian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A total of 231 Gambians were in the boats, but some fled before they could be repatriated, according to the ministry.

In addition, 156 Gambians were evacuated on 24 June from Libya, where they were stranded.

In Tunisia, hundreds of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa are in a very precarious situation in a desert area in the south of the country, close to the Libyan border, after having been driven out of the town of Sfax (in the centre-east) in recent days against a backdrop of sharp tensions with the local population, who were demanding their departure, according to eyewitness accounts gathered by AFP. 

On Thursday, the human rights NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Tunisia of having moved them there since 2 July.

"In view of the disturbing videos of migrants in Tunisia circulating on social networks, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working hard to authenticate their numbers and nationalities as part of the evacuation procedures", the Gambian ministry said in a statement.

Earlier this year, West African countries including Burkina Faso, Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali and Senegal repatriated hundreds of their nationals from Tunisia, which was the scene of racist attacks.

An increasingly openly xenophobic attitude towards these migrants has spread since the Tunisian President, Kais Saied, slammed illegal immigration in February.

He accused the "hordes of illegal migrants from sub-Saharan Africa" of fuelling crime and presented them as a demographic threat to his country, hit by a socio-economic crisis that has worsened since he assumed full power in July 2021.

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