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African Union postpones conference in Tunisia amid crackdown on migrants

March 7, 2023 at 1:50 pm

African Union (AU) [AMANUEL SILESHI/AFP via Getty Images]

The African Union has postponed a conference that was scheduled to take place in Tunisia this month amid mounting criticism of a government crackdown on migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, Anadolu News Agency reports.

“The Pan-African Network Conference on Fighting Illicit Financial Flows in Africa that was scheduled to convene in Tunisia from 15-17 March 2023 has been postponed,’’ a spokeswoman for the AU said in text messages to Anadolu on Tuesday.

The AU did not give a reason for the postponement, but it has been critical of the North African country’s treatment of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

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Tensions escalated last month between Tunisia and the African Union amid a flow of irregular migrants into the North African country.

In February, Tunisian President, Kais Saied, called for ending the flow of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa into his country, saying irregular migration aims to change the country’s demography.

His statements, however, drew the ire of Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairman of the African Union Commission, who termed the Tunisian President’s comments as “shocking”.

Rights groups have documented a rising number of attacks on sub-Saharan Africans following Saied’s comments, including evictions, assault and racist slurs.

In a statement, AU said a meeting was held with the Tunisian Envoy to express the “African Union’s deep shock and concern at the form and substance of the statement targeting fellow Africans, notwithstanding their legal status in the country.”

“The Chairperson reminds all countries, particularly African Union Member States, to honour their obligations under international law and relevant African Union instruments to treat all migrants with dignity, wherever they come from, refrain from radicalised hate speech that could bring people to harm, and prioritise their safety and human rights,” the statement added.

READ: Black African immigrants trying to change demographic make-up of country, says Tunisia president