Testimonies of attacks against sub-Saharans have multiplied in different parts of the country since the controversial statements of Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed on February 21, 2023 about the “uncontrolled masses” of migrants from the south of the continent.
With Lilia Blaise, RFI correspondent in Tunisia
In Tunisia, security measures against irregular sub-Saharan migrants are intensified and random attacks continue. Thirty-three sub-Saharan migrants were detained in Kasserine, in the center-west of the country, for illegal entry, and 69 were arrested over the weekend for the same reason, according to the Tunisian National Guard.
In Sfax, in the east of the country, four sub-Saharan migrants were attacked with knives on the night of February 25, while in Tunisia, four Ivorian students were attacked as they left their university residence, as well as a Gabonese woman who was leaving her home on Saturday.
Student associations continue to ask students not to leave their homes. These attacks have been kept quiet in Tunisia.
This situation takes place after the declarations of the Tunisian president, who on Tuesday night announced “urgent measures” against sub-Saharan illegal immigration in his country, denouncing the arrival of “hordes of clandestines” and “a criminal enterprise to change the composition demographics” of Tunisia.
“What is happening is a serious crime”
Nothing was leaked in the Tunisian media on February 26 about these attacks that took place in the city of Sfax. Only the associations transmitted the testimonies of four victims who had to be taken to the hospital after being attacked with a knife in the Cité El Ons area of the city. Several local representatives went to the Habib Bourguiba hospital in Sfax to assist them.
The houses of these people of Guinean, Ivorian, Malian and Cameroonian nationalities were ransacked by their attackers.
The director of the Tunisian Observatory for Human Rights, Mostafa Abdelkebir, confirmed in a Facebook post that the migrants were expelled from their homes and their belongings vandalized. “What is happening is a serious crime,” he said. “I ask the authorities to assume their responsibilities,” he added.
On Saturday in Tunisia, several sub-Saharan students were attacked as they left their shelters and homes, according to a statement from the Association of Sub-Saharan Students and Scholars published on Sunday. The statement urges the students to stay at home for another week, and to call a number in case of suffering abuse.
“I fear for my daughter and I fear for my wife”
For several days, many migrants have not dared to leave their homes. Many exchange messages on WhatsApp to give news and share the latest information or reports of attacks through social networks. In Bhar Lazreg, a neighborhood on Tunisia’s northern periphery where sub-Saharans used to live side by side with Tunisians, many are now cloistered in their homes.
An Ivorian who lives in this neighborhood declares anonymously: “I have been in Tunisia since 2015 and I am with my little family and everything. And, since these events started and after the first speech of the president, a lot has happened in other neighborhoods. And since then, every night, there are always attacks. There are Tunisians breaking into houses, breaking, looting and looting. There are many isolated cases. Right now, there are people who are trapped, who are in neighborhoods where they can’t get out nor to buy food. And I myself am very sad at the moment”.
And he adds: “I am with my little family. We are waiting for Monday to go to the embassy to register and go to the Ivory Coast. Because, for the moment, I can no longer stay here. Because, with what I see, I am very sad. I fear for my daughter and I fear for my wife,” he told RFI.