Article first published on February 18, 2022
Press release – For seven nights and eight days now, refugees and asylum seekers have been protesting in front of the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in southern Tunisia, in Zarzis and Medenine.
An increasing number of those expelled from reception centres denounce the abandonment by the UN which is supposed to provide them with protection.
Today, almost 200 men, women and children dare to make themselves visible to demand respect for their rights. Faced with increasingly lengthy and uncertain asylum procedures, fewer prospects of resettlement, the absence of legal support, recurrent violence by the authorities and the lack of job opportunities, their expulsion from their places of residence only further aggravates the extremely precarious situation in which they find themselves.
Of Eritrean, Somali, Sudanese, or Ethiopian nationality, most crossed the Libyan camps before seeking refuge in Tunisia. However, with the decision taken by UNHCR and its partners to drastically reduce assistance to exiled persons, they have been left to fend for themselves in an unstable socio-economic situation and in a difficult political context marked by growing racism. Many of them have no choice but to return to Libya, a dangerous country from which they were desperately trying to escape.
In the face of this blatant violation of rights, we call on the UNHCR to fulfil its mandate and to protect refugees, not borders! For several decades now, said UN agency has played a role in the worst security policies and is now leaving people stranded farther and farther away from Europe’s borders in unworthy conditions.
We express our solidarity with all the exiled people who are protesting to demand respect for their rights and dignity.
Protection and freedom of movement for all!
Watch The Med – Alarm Phone
ADIF – Associazione Diritti e Frontiere
ASGI – Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull’Immigrazione
Association des Mères des Migrants Disparus
borderline-europe Menschenrechte ohne Grenzen e.V.
Caravana Abriendo Fronteras
Couverture de la Mémoire Tunisie
FTDES – Forum Tunisien pour les Droits Economiques et Sociaux (FTDES)
Legal Team Italia
Mediterranea Saving Humans
Melting Pot Europa
Ongi Etorri Errefukiatuak
Rete Antirazzista Catanese
Forum Antirazzista Palermo
Translated from Italian by Timea Campedelli