Migrants in Tunisia ask for safe passage to Europe amid increasing anti-migration policies


In the coastal town of El Amra, Tunisia, migrants from sub-Saharan Africa are asking to be let go in order to reach Europe as tensions mount in the country over the government's handling of the migrant crisis.

Far from the main roads, in local olive groves, migrant encampments stand as testament to the struggles faced by the many dreaming of a better life in Europe.

Among them are migrants from Mali, their faces etched with exhaustion and desperation.

"There is no work here. It's not easy to find anything to eat," said Defao, a Malian migrant.

"All we want is for them to let us go, we will leave," he added.

A migrant from Burkina Faso was looking for safe passage and did not want to stay in Tunisia.

"There is war in our countries and we are here only to cross over and save our families," said Zilé Inoza.

"Since we've been here, we've done nothing wrong. We are only asking to be allowed to pass," he added

A final stop for many who dream of a better life in Europe, El Amra and nearby Jebeniana reflect the compounding problems facing Tunisia, a key transit point for migrants from Syria, Bangladesh and a variety of sub-Saharan African nations.

Law enforcement has expanded its presence in the two agricultural towns, where roughly 83,000 Tunisians live among a growing number of migrants from around the world.

Hundreds of Tunisians marched in the streets of Jebeniana this weekend, demanding that the Tunisian government expel the migrants.

Protesters say they have borne the cost of Tunisia's effort to prevent migrants from reaching the European Union less than a year after the country brokered an anti-migration pact with the 27-country bloc to better police its sea border and receive more than $1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in aid.

Tunisian President Kais Saied has taken a hard stance against migrants, accusing them of bringing violence and crime to the country.

The Tunisian Coast Guard has said it has prevented more than 21,000 migration attempts by land or sea this year.

Fewer than 8,000 successfully travelled by boat from Tunisia to Italy in the first four months of 2024, a threefold decrease from 2023, according to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR.

The International Organization for Migration's Tunisia office has said roughly 7,000 migrants are living near Jebeniana and El Amra, though residents estimate the number could be much higher.

A source: https://www.africanews.com/2024/05/20/migrants-in-tunisia-ask-for-safe-passage-to-europe-amid-increasing-anti-migration-policies/ 

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