The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES) expressed concern on Monday over the migrant situation in the country and its serious humanitarian repercussions. FTDES accused the Tunisian government of orchestrating a campaign of repression against migrants to ensure a steady stream of financial and logistical support from Europe.
The statement highlights testimonies of severe climatic conditions and expulsions towards the Libyan border, leading to the confinement of individuals in detention centers. The FTDES alleged that these actions also involve arbitrary stops of migrants, property seizures, destruction and instances of violence. These actions extend to migrant workers, students, refugees, asylum seekers, minors, women and stateless individuals who legally enter Tunisian territory.
FTDES also criticized European governments for their involvement in policies that seemingly neglect human rights and migrant rights. They emphasized European governments’ direct responsibility for human tragedies on the borders. In July, the EU signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Tunisia. While the MoU covers economic cooperation, green energy transition, and education cooperation, it also included a financial support package of 105 million euros to fight irregular migration.
Amnesty International criticized the migration agreement shortly after its release, accusing the EU of complicity in abuses against asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. According to Amnesty’s Advocacy Director at the European Institutions Office Eve Geddie:
This ill-judged agreement, signed despite mounting evidence of serious human rights abuses by authorities, will result in a dangerous expansion of already failed migration policies and signals EU acceptance of increasingly repressive behaviour by Tunisia’s president and government.
Tunisian President Kaid Saied has also been accused of scapegoating sub-Saharan migrants for economic challenges and using xenophobic rhetoric, describing them as a threat to Tunisia’s Arab and Islamic identity. FTDES stressed that such actions need to end so that the human rights of migrants entering the country are protected.