A wave of racist and xenophobic violence in Tunisia as sub-Saharan populations are relocated to the Sahara

In Tunisia, a wave of racism and xenophobia has unleashed a “black-hunt”, according to reports in Italy by media and parliamentarians. In Sfax, the second largest city in the country in terms of population It has a population of 330 thousand people, the hunt for hundreds of desperate sub-Saharan migrants, who are being deported into the desert, is unleashed. In this and other Tunisian cities, episodes of xenophobic intolerance have grown with the strong economic and political crisis plaguing the country. But observers point out that they never reached today’s levels.

In Sfax, the most recent attack against black citizens was the killing of a Tunisian by a group of immigrants. The reaction of the authorities and many Tunisians was very harsh: Numerous photos and videos circulated on social media showing sub-Saharan people being beaten, assaulted and expelled, amid applause from Tunisians inciting the police to expel illegal immigrants, chanting “so long!” Long live Tunisia! Sfax is not a colony.

From this town on the Tunisian coast, 270 kilometers from the country’s capital, small boats depart almost daily. loaded with immigrants The Tunisians and the Sahara south of the Sahara towards the Italian coasts, in particular towards the island of Lampedusa, which they see almost a stone’s throw away, less than 200 kilometers away.

Meanwhile, the Tunisian president, Kais Said, once again used xenophobic phrases: “Tunisia does not tolerate the use of its territory as a transit or settlement area for peoples from different African countries.” In March, international organizations denounced the rhetoric of its authoritarian president Said, who unleashed a wave of racism and xenophobia, with persecution and arrests, by promising “urgent measures” against illegal immigration to sub-Saharan Africa.

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The president said, “There are hordes of sub-Saharan men threatening our identity!” According to Said,hordes of illegal immigrantsThe “source” of “violence, crimes and unacceptable acts” that aim to change the demographic composition of Tunisia in order to obliterate its “Arab-Islamic” character. He even accused unknown persons of receiving money to “settle” sub-Saharan Africans in Tunisia. The racist violence that has reached its peak in recent days in Tunisia is worrying.

In Sfax, incitement to xenophobia by President Said led to beatings, raids, and stalking of the black man. Representative Nicolas Fratoianni denounced that “the target is migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, who were forced to flee to the desert with their children.”

Rome’s efforts

Italy and the European Union are doing everything they can to stabilize the country and stem the flow of migrants to Italian shores. With this aim, the Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, traveled to Tunisia twice in just five days, last June. On her most recent visit, Meloni was accompanied by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte. They offered Tunisian President Kais Saied, Aid package worth 250 million euros (100 million European funding for border control and an additional 150 million liquidity to ease the financial crisis in the North African country, which is on the verge of bankruptcy).

Italy and the European Union are doing everything they can to stabilize the country and stop the departure of migrants to Italian shores.

Saied also promised his support in the complex negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is imposing reforms on the authoritarian regime of the Tunisian president, to grant A loan of about 2,000 million euros. Only in the event of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, the European Union is ready to intervene with a strong support plan (up to 900 million euros), to avoid the bankruptcy of public finances in Tunisia. But Saeed does not give in to the demands of Europe and the International Monetary Fund for reform, using immigrants as a card in his negotiations with the European Union, Italy and the IMF to obtain the funds he desperately needs to prevent the country’s social and economic collapse.

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