In Tunisia, dozens of refugees and migrants are asking to be evacuated to neighboring countries. Since Saturday, the refugees have been holding a sit-in in front of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) headquarters in Tunis, Tunisia’s capital. They are largely survivors of illegal immigration attempts by sea to Europe.
A banner they’ve put at the building’s entrance reads, “We need to be evacuated.” The refugees, many of whom are women and children, sleep on cardboard boxes put out on the ground among luggage containing their personal items and equipped with blankets. They chastised the UN for its inaction. “The real problem is that the UN panel hasn’t been doing its job, which is to protect us.”Rather than doing so, it has abandoned us on the street. We were residing in Zarzis when the UN commission ordered our evacuation, cut off our finances, and ceased to defend us. The Sudanese from Darfur, Saleh Saeed, told AFP that he had declined refugee status.
Mohamed Nour, a 19-year-old Chadian, also reported that they have faced prejudice, which has made life tough for them. We were assaulted in our own homes. “All we want is to be taken out of this nation.” Migrants and refugees in Tunisia, especially those from Sub-Saharan Africa, often report that they have been verbally and physically harassed.
The majority of these migrants were rescued off the coast of Tunisia after their boats capsized while attempting to illegally cross into Europe. According to the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, the Tunisian coastguard stopped 25,657 migrants from trying to cross the Mediterranean in 2021. This figure is almost double the number of migrants who were stopped last year.