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Fearful sub-Saharan citizens flee Tunisia amid anti-migrant campaign


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In recent days, dozens of migrants have been dropped off outside the Ivorian embassy in Tunis by a steady stream of taxis who claim they no longer feel safe because of the official climate of fear.

President Kais Saied delivered a speech on Wednesday (Feb. 15) that detractors claimed was overtly racist following a recent wave of arrests. Sub-Saharan Africans are currently leaving Tunisia in large numbers.

Constant, who arrived at the embassy early on Friday in the hope of getting her paperwork in order, said, “We want to go home.”

Saied said in his speech that there was “a criminal plot” to change Tunisia’s population, but he didn’t give any proof. He also told officials to take “urgent measures” to deal with illegal migration.

His remarks echoed the “great replacement” theory, a xenophobic theory. Those who oppose immigration find it appealing. It is also notorious because Brenton Tarrant, the attacker who murdered 51 Muslims in Christchurch (New Zealand), notable praised it in 2019.

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It is “clear that things are different since Saied’s speech,” according to Aboubacar Dobe, the head of a radio station for French-speaking immigrants.

Radio Libre Francophone’s director claimed to have received threatening phone calls. People believed the state would defend them when it was just the (recently founded far-right) Tunisian Nationalist Party or on social media, he claimed.

They feel abandoned right now. Following Saied’s comments on migrants, the African Union also expressed concern and urged its member states to “refrain from racialized hate speech that could harm people.”

They claim to be uneasy.

One couple arrived outside the Ivorian embassy after having their apartment evicted, carrying their belongings in suitcases and backpacks.

A smartly dressed Tunisian woman dropped off three additional young women. She stated that they had been employed there for two years. Because they don’t feel safe, they are leaving right now.

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The six-month jobless Constant claimed to have started a WhatsApp group for Ivorians wishing to return home.

I can’t afford to pay the fine of more than 1,000 euros ($1,055) because I overstayed by four years, she claimed, so I’m here to arrange an exit permit.

Other immigrants described being harassed and intimidated, including having fires set outside their buildings or being the target of break-in attempts. Wilfrid Badia, 34, who has spent six years in the country of North Africa scraping by on part-time work, claimed that “the landlords are kicking us out; people beat us up or mistreat us.” We made the decision to visit the embassy to register for a flight home out of caution.

According to Hosni Maati, a lawyer who supports an organization for Ivorians in Tunisia, “Tunisians have totally lost it since the president’s speech.”

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Sub-Saharan Africans, according to Maati, have been living in Tunisia without proper documentation for years while the government has done nothing. Many were unable to regularize their status due to administrative barriers, making them easy pickings for dishonest employers looking for cheap labor.

According to rights groups, since the start of the wave of arrests targeting migrants two weeks ago, 400 people have been detained. Most of them were later released. Maati said, “You can’t solve such a complex situation by giving a speech and rounding up people everywhere.

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