Creating new perspectives since 2009

Tunisia-Libya talks on migrants, mutual border

August 10, 2023 at 3:10 pm

Tunisian Interior Minister Kamal Feki speaks to media regarding an attack near a synagogue on Tunisia’s island of Djerba, at Tunisian Ministry of Interior Affairs in Tunis, Tunisia on May 11, 2023 [Yassine Gaidi – Anadolu Agency]

Tunisian Interior Minister, Kamal Feki, and his Libyan counterpart, Emad Trabelsi held talks on several files, including combating irregular migration and facilitating work at the Ras Jedir border crossing between the two countries.

The Tunisian Ministry of Interior said in a statement that the two ministers discussed, during a meeting in Tunis on Wednesday evening, “a number of common security files, most notably combating irregular migration, ways to overcome difficulties to facilitate services at the Ras Jedir border crossing and common security challenges.”

During the meeting, “reference was made to the importance of the issue of African migrants from the Sahel (West Africa) and sub-Saharan countries, and the repercussions on the two countries, discussing limiting their flow to the borders”, according to the statement.

READ: Tunisia: 10 bodies recovered off coast of Sfax over 48-hour period 

For the past two weeks, irregular African migrants have been suffering from very difficult humanitarian conditions on the Tunisian-Libyan border, after they were expelled from their homes following a clash with Tunisians in the Sfax governorate (south) over the killing of a Tunisian youth. Tunisia has been subject to human rights criticism for how it has handled these immigrants.

The two ministers called on international organisations to help “provide humanitarian support and not hesitate to fulfil their duty towards migrants”.

They also agreed on “further bilateral coordination and cooperation in the security field, especially in the field of information exchange, training and combating organised crime.”

Feki estimated, earlier, the number of irregular migrants in his country at about 80,000, including about 17,000 in Sfax.

For some time now, Tunisia has been witnessing a remarkable increase in the number of irregular migrants to Europe across the Mediterranean, especially towards the coasts of Italy, due to the repercussions of economic and political crises in Tunisia and other African countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

Tunisian President, Kais Saied, stressed earlier, his refusal for his country to be a place for the transit or settlement of irregular migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, while affirming pride in his country’s African affiliation.

READ: Tunisia bakeries protest ban on sale of subsidised flour