Nearly 300 folks returned from Tunisia to Mali and Ivory Coast on Saturday after boarding repatriation flights, frightened of a wave of violence because the president launched a tirade towards migrants.
Final month President Kais Saied ordered officers to take “pressing measures” to sort out irregular migration, claiming with out proof that “a prison plot” was underway “to vary Tunisia’s demographic make-up”.
Saied claimed that migrants had been behind most crime within the North African nation, fuelling a spate of sackings, evictions and assaults.
The African Union expressed “deep shock and concern” at his remarks, whereas governments in sub-Saharan Africa scrambled to deliver residence tons of of frightened nationals who flocked to their embassies for assist.
A bunch of 135 Malian nationals arrived in Bamako late Saturday, an AFP journalist reported.
They had been welcomed by Defence Minister Sadio Camara and the minister for Malians residing overseas Alhamdou Ag Ilyene, who defined that Mali’s authorities had chartered their aircraft.
The minister mentioned 97 males, 25 ladies and 13 youngsters had been on board.
In Abidjan, a flight carrying 145 passengers additionally landed late on Saturday. They had been welcomed by Prime Minister Patrick Achi and several other ministers, an AFP journalist mentioned.
They had been taken to a reception centre, the place they are going to spend three days receiving medical and psychological care earlier than being reunited with their households.
– ‘I am not secure’ –
Early this morning, an AFP photographer noticed the Malian group go away their embassy in Tunis, boarding buses to the airport the place a chartered aircraft awaited.
“The Tunisians do not like us, so we’re compelled to go away,” Bagresou Sego instructed AFP earlier than boarding the bus.
Adrahmen Dombia, who arrived in Tunisia 4 years in the past, mentioned he needed to cease his college research mid-year. “I am going again as a result of I am not secure.”
One other Malian migrant, Baril, mentioned he had a allow to remain in Tunisia however joined the repatriation flight anyway.
“We ask President Kais Saied with nice respect to contemplate our different brothers and deal with them properly,” he instructed AFP.
A primary group of fifty Guineans was flown residence on Wednesday.
In keeping with official figures, there are round 21,000 undocumented migrants from different elements of Africa in Tunisia, a rustic of round 12 million folks.
Critics accuse Saied, who has seized nearly complete energy since July 2021, of in search of to put in a brand new dictatorship within the nation, which is grappling with inflation and shortages of important items.
– Vigilante violence –
Since Saied gave his speech on February 21, rights teams have reported a spike in vigilante violence, together with the stabbings of African migrants.
Jean Badel Gnabli, head of an affiliation of Ivorian migrants in Tunisia, instructed AFP from the airport that the group leaving on Saturday had “spent the evening in resorts”.
The entire group was residing in concern, he mentioned earlier. “They really feel like they have been handed over to mob justice.”
Ambassador Savane mentioned 1,100 Ivorians out of round 7,000 in Tunisia had utilized to be repatriated.
Michael Elie Bio Vamet, head of an Ivorian scholar affiliation, mentioned 30 college students had signed up for the repatriation flight regardless of having permits to remain.
“They do not really feel snug,” he instructed AFP by telephone. “A few of them had been victims of racist acts. Some are on the finish of their research, however others discontinued.
“There are assaults nearly day-after-day, threats, they’re even being kicked out by landlords or bodily attacked,” he added.
– Dozens arrested –
Many African migrants in Tunisia misplaced their jobs and houses in a single day.
Dozens had been arrested after identification checks, and a few are nonetheless being detained.
Migrants whose nations have embassies in Tunisia rushed to them for assist.
The embassies of Ivory Coast and Mali offered emergency lodging this week for dozens of their residents evicted from their properties, together with younger youngsters.
Residents of different African nations whose nations don’t have any diplomatic illustration in Tunisia arrange makeshift camps exterior the Tunis workplaces of the Worldwide Group for Migration.
Amongst these heading residence are dozens of fee-paying or scholarship college students who had been enrolled in Tunisian universities and within the nation legally.
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