Ibrahima Barry and Dame Mariama Barry, who were visibly exhausted, describe their return trip to Guinea from Tunisia after President Kais Saied incited a commotion by charging sub-Saharan migrants with crimes.
The unrelated Guineans made their first flight back to their native land on Wednesday after Saied instructed his security forces to take “urgent measures” against “hordes” of sub-Saharan African migrants.
The president of Tunisia accused immigrants of inciting a crime wave and planning to alter the demographics of the nation without providing any supporting evidence.
26-year-old Ibrahima Barry referred to the current events as “a wave of hatred without reason” as he was being driven to his brother’s home in the suburbs of Guinea’s capital, Conakry.
“To say they are savages in Tunisia is not too strong a word,” he said.
Many of the 21,000 Sub-Saharan African migrants who are officially registered in Tunisia lost their jobs and homes over night.
The first repatriated Guineans described violent encounters and manhunts.
In 2019, Ibrahima Barry went to Tunisia for university. “I was in bed when a friend called to tell me not to go out, that anti-black nationalism had been unleashed all over the country after a speech by the head of state,” she recalled.
The following day, neighbors in the city of Gabes broke into his house and told him not to move.
He claimed that his landlord came to his rescue, driving him the 400 kilometers (250 miles) to the Guinean consulate in Tunis after forcing the intruders to leave.
“Black people were hunted down, pursued, raped, and had their homes looted by Tunisians in my neighborhood,” he said, adding that the police occasionally assisted them.
Brutality and racial epithets
“They would attack a black person with stones or sticks as soon as they saw him, even if he was just sitting in front of his door or in the town (…) We experienced a nightmare while living in Tunisia “Ibrahima Barry said.
“It is simply inhumane and savage for an African to treat another African in that manner.”
Hundreds of sub-Saharians have registered with their embassies on repatriation lists since Said’s speech.
On Wednesday night, the Guinean junta was the first to bring back about 50 citizens.
AFP reported that Dame Mariama Barry, 27, has lost everything.
She had been working in a hair salon in Tunis for eight months when she arrived in Tunisia in 2022 with the intention of traveling to Europe.
She noted that she had encountered racism from Tunisians and claimed that she had been forced to accept everything, including the unacceptable.
She added that following the president’s speech, things deteriorated.
She claimed that her boss had called her “a bad girl,” “an adventuress without origin,” and other racial slurs. That’s when I realized I needed to get out of there quickly.
She claimed that there was unrest in her neighborhood as sub-Saharan Africans were being persecuted.
Some young people stopped her and one of them slapped her; she said she asked for forgiveness and was given the okay to go. Another person kicked me in the buttocks, causing me to fall to the ground and have my bag stolen.
She claimed to have been sobbing and lost in the city’s streets without any money or a phone when a taxi stopped to take her to the house of a fellow Guinean.
Before leaving for Conakry, they barricaded themselves in a studio there, allowing them to avoid “a planned death,” as she put it.
The migrants were accommodated in a hotel by Guinean authorities on their first night back in the nation.
According to the ambassador in Tunis, Ivory Coast was getting ready to fly nearly 300 of its citizens out of Tunisia on Saturday. Another almost 800 Ivorians are also waiting to depart the country of North Africa.
The Mali embassy stated that approximately 150 people would be flown home on Saturday.