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Tunisia: locals and migrants clash in Sfax 

July 4, 2023 at 12:04 pm

People lift placards as they shout slogans during a demonstration against the presence of illegal sub-Saharan migrants, in Sfax on June 25, 2023 [HOUSSEM ZOUARI/AFP via Getty Images]

Clashes have erupted between local Tunisian citizens and irregular migrants from sub-Saharan Africa in Sfax. The centre of the city is congested and the issue of irregular migration has been brought to the forefront of the public discourse.

According to the official spokesman for the Court of First Instance in Sfax, Fawzi Al-Masmoudi, the Tunisian authorities have opened an investigation into the events that took place in the city, the circumstances of which are not clear. No arrests had been made at the time of writing.

Speaking to Radio Mosaique, Al-Masmoudi said that initial enquiries suggest that skirmishes took place between local residents and a number of sub-Saharan Africans who live in the same neighbourhood. These developed and spread onto the streets, where stones were thrown, damaging cars and injuring people.

Civil society activist Chafik Al-Ayadi has called on the government to “intervene urgently in the matter of migrants in the Sfax region, find solutions and regulate their entry by law.” He said that the EU is the main reason why Africans head for Tunisia, especially after Europe has destroyed the economies of the African countries. He called on the EU to find solutions for Africans in their countries, not at the expense of Tunisia.

“The file must be dealt with in a humane and non-racist manner,” he added. “Moreover, Sfax cannot bear the burden of Africans alone, and the state must play its role in finding solutions.”

President Kais Saied has said repeatedly that Tunisia would not agree to be the guardian of Europe’s borders, nor would it accept to be a home for foreign migrants.

READ: Tunisia thwarts 65 recent attempted mass migrations to Europe