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Tunisia: Bodies found near border following migrants’ expulsions

In this photo taken by migrant from the Ivory Coast, a group of sub-Saharan Africans is seen stranded on a beach allegedly at the Tunisian-Libyan border on Jul. 6, 2023.   -  
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Residents in a border area between Tunisia and Algeria have discovered at least two bodies believed to be migrants from Saharan regions, according to a spokesperson for a local court and a witness confirmed to news agency AFP on Tuesday.

The official spokesperson for the Tozeur Court, Nizar Eskander, informed AFP, "We have opened an investigative inquiry into the deaths after the discovery of the bodies of migrants from sub-Saharan countries. The first body was found at least ten days ago, and the second one was found on Monday."

A resident of the border area called Hazoua [Editor's Note: Near border with Algeria], who requested anonymity and works as a trader in the region, stated to AFP, "The two bodies belonged to young men, and we handed them over to civil protection."

He added that in recent days, "Two buses arrived carrying approximately one hundred migrants and left them in the desert."

He further explained, "Many migrants are attempting to reach the oases where residents provide them with food and water."

Following clashes between residents in the province of Sfax and migrants that resulted in the death of a Tunisian national, dozens of migrants from sub-Saharan African countries were expelled from Sfax (central-east). Tunisia's second city is a key departure point for illegal migration towards European shores. 

They were relocated to border areas with Algeria and Libya, according to non-governmental organizations.

Mamadou, a Guinean migrant present in the "Douar Maa" area on the Algerian side of the border, issued a distress call to Agence France-Presse on Monday, stating that he had "no water or food."

Salma Belaali, the director of the Tunisia office at Human Rights Watch, told Agence France-Presse on Monday, "All the migrants, numbering between 500 and 700, who were at the border with Libya, have been relocated to another place."

Belaali added, "However, many others who were expelled towards the Algerian border are in danger if they are not rescued immediately." The organization estimates that there are between 150 and 200 migrants in this situation.

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